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Designate a Non-drinking Driver for a Safe Memorial Day Weekend; Never use alcohol while operating a boat

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) urges everyone to designate a non-drinking driver if their Memorial Day weekend plans include alcohol and to remember that boating and drinking never mix.

Drunk driving is completely preventable yet claimed 172 lives from 6 p.m. Friday to 5:59 a.m. Monday during the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating crashes, accounting for nearly a quarter of these deaths, according to a 2019 report on recreational boating by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“This Memorial Day weekend, as we honor our nation’s heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect ours, please remember to keep yourselves and those around you safe. Choose a non-drinking driver to get you to and from your destination and never use alcohol while on the water,” said MADD National President Alex Otte, who was severely injured when she was struck by a drunk boater at age 13.

“Enjoy the backyard barbecues and other events this weekend but do so in a way that ensures you and everyone around you gets home in one piece,” Otte said. “That means planning ahead for a safe and sober ride home if your plans include alcohol and remembering that alcohol use while on or near water does not mix.”

People are just as impaired at a .03 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the water as a .08 BAC on land, according to research by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, or NASBLA, a nonprofit that develops public policy for recreational boating safety. That’s due to environmental factors such as the motion of the water, the weather, the sun, the cold water and other factors that increase impairment.

“Prior to 1980, people drove with a beer in their cupholder. Today, you would never watch someone get in a car with alcohol in their hand and drive away,” Otte said. “But that happens every single day on our nation’s waterways. This is a culture shift that has yet to happen, but it must, if we’re going to save more lives.”

Memorial Day weekend is an unofficial kickoff to summer as well as boating season. Travel typically increases and the risk of crashes, injuries and deaths increases on both land and water. In 2019, 37 percent of traffic deaths during Memorial Day weekend were alcohol related.

Memorial Day also falls during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Click it or Ticket campaign, when law enforcement reminds motorists to buckle up. MADD reminds everyone to wear their seatbelts because this remains a great defense against drunk drivers.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

Contact: [email protected]

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