As I reflect on Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD) 43rd anniversary, I am humbled to serve as the CEO of an organization founded by a group of determined and resilient women who were instrumental in mobilizing the groundswell of support that has improved the health and safety of our nation’s roads and communities.
As the preeminent leader on the front lines addressing drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking, MADD has come a long way in 43 years. We have worked to change hearts and minds and created a culture of accountability. From our earliest days, we have worked tirelessly to enact the laws that raised the minimum drinking age to 21, made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content at .08% or above, introduced the concept of “designated drivers” and cut drunk driving deaths by 50%.
Despite 43 years of progress, we have seen an alarming rate of deaths due to impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths, one death every 39 minutes, which is a 14% increase from 2020. Every life taken is another moment — another reason — to keep fighting to end this national tragedy.
With 2 in 3 Americans likely to be impacted by a drunk or drugged driver in their lifetime, MADD believes in a world where everyone is safe to live, work, and play. Every day we are fighting for legislation and policy change including innovative impaired driving prevention technology that will end drunk driving for good. We are working with law enforcement and social justice organizations to address the inequities in traffic safety enforcement and traffic deaths to ensure all communities feel safe and protected. We are engaging with younger and more diverse audiences to address their unique needs, mobilizing our most trusted allies – the victims and survivors of this 100% preventable crime, to create the change we want to see in the world.
As the mother of a teenager behind the wheel and as an African-American woman, I am acutely aware that the world in which MADD operates has changed since 1980. Yet, our vision and values are as relevant today as they were when the organization began. As I look toward the future, I invite everyone to join our movement of advocates and changemakers. Together we will not stop until we create a safer future for all and a world in which impairment puts no lives at risk.