Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD)

There are so many grassroots organizations that started with a heartfelt desire to make a positive change. MADD is an organization that is one of the best prevention programs that has changed our Nation, passing legislative laws to keep commuters and pedestrians safe.

Here is a brief history of MADD, keep in mind MADD was developed in 1980 after the very liberating 70's, the 70's were a time of major change. MADD was one of the loudest voices spearheaded by 2 women who demanded safety, support and safer laws during a time when drinking and driving were a social norm. Could you imagine a time when it was okay to drink and drive? Thanks to our predecessors the streets have an extremely low tolerance law, allowing us all to commute, walk, bike, skate, jog or however we choose to get around - safely (most of the time).

The disease of addiction does not care about safety or laws, children or the parents of children who have suffered great loss. As much as society advocates safety: no tolerance for drunk driving , babies in carseats and people commuting in general; people continue to drink and drive. Allowing someone to drive while intoxicated is the biggest mistake that does not have to happen. If someone you love is affected by alcohol, Intervention 911 is here day or night to support and give the solution.

The misconception is that alcohol is okay, because it is sold in stores. Alcohol is the 2nd most deadly drug in America and surprisingly enough tobacco is #1!!!! / Ph# 866-888-4911

"History of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)"

In 1980 a young girl by the name of Carrie Lightner was walking to a church carnival. 13 year old Carrie was struck with a car, driven by a drunk driver. The impact was so hard that it knocked her out of her shoes and threw her 125 feet into the air, cutting her life short. 125 feet is approximately the width of 2 telephone poles. The impact was so hard and sudden that little Carrie never even knew what hit her.

The drunk driver did not even bother to stop and see if Carrie was alright, instead he chose to try and hide the damages to on his vehicle. His wife found this behavior very strange and turned him into the police. The man was arrested, only to find out that he was a repeat offender of driving while intoxicated.

The heartache pain of losing a child sent Carrie's mother, Candice Lightner on a mission to seek justice and help other people who suffer at the careless hands of drunk drivers. Along side of Candice was her friend and colleague Sue LeBrun-Green. Together they would spearhead an organization that would change our Nation and the lives of countless people.

In 1980 drunk driving was not on society's radar, it was a social norm. Thousands of people were dyeing each year. Marilyn Sabin Alcohol Coordinator for the “California Office of Traffic Safety” had kept trying to push a DUI Bill that continued to fail. Yet, $35 million was being spent on alcohol safety programs and nothing was working.

The first office that "Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)" set up was in Carrie Lightner's still decorated bedroom. This was truly a grassroots program fueled by the pain, love and anguish of a broken hearted mother. Candice Lightner was unaware of the explosive change she was soon to make in the shattered lives of families, victimized by drunk drivers.

The wheels of the new MADD organization gradually began to turn. The beginning was slow; they gathered statistical information, reached out to other victims and disseminated written newsletters. Their main objective was to figure how to stop getting the run-around from the judicial system?

Candice and Sue instantly made an impact throughout communities. Victims of drunk drivers began pouring in with questions and were in need of support, faster than the small organization could answer. Within 4 months MADD became a corporation.

The changes were heartfelt and obvious, even politicians began to return their calls. MADD grew from coast to coast and the demand to create a drunk driving task force became eminent. Cindy Lamb and her 5 month old baby were the victims of a drunk driving accident, her baby became the youngest person to become a paraplegic. Cindy started the Maryland chapter.

People questioned the morale of MADD, asking why are they all so angry? In response: a paralyzed baby, a deceased or badly burned child is right enough for any mother, father or family member to be angry!

At this point Cindy Lamb and Candice Lightner went National to Capitol Hill, demanding legislation be passed on tougher drunk driving laws. On October 1, 1980 the shift that would change drunk driving forever began to happen. Victims and volunteers would come together and joined forces, even housewives got involved -- they all united in the fight to change legislation.

A woman and her husband were involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, the husband was severely injured and this is how the Milwaukee chapter of MADD got started. This was the chain reaction of MADD, people in abundance got involved in order to improve laws and support each other through the pain of losing loved one’s or dealing with the grief of life altering experiences caused from drunk driving.

MADD was sprouting up everywhere and growing like wildfire, everyone wanted a solution to drunk driving and MADD was at the forefront of this demand. MADD's passion to reach out and help people was obvious and loud throughout communities. Through MADD people got to reach out to one another, give support in the process of mourning, mount the pain of loss and navigate their way through the judicial system. A majority of MADD's volunteers are people who have suffered loss due to drunk driving - all too well, understanding each other’s pain.

This little grassroots organization that started in May of 1980, in just one month had grown into 11 chapters with 6 more still forming. By 1982 MADD had 100 chapters, this program was such a success that President Reagan invited MADD to participate in the commission on drunk driving. During that same year a bill was also passed awarding funds to highways with anti-drunk driving efforts. Those that did not participate did not receive funds.

The year 1982 was a good year for MADD, anti-drunk driving laws were passed in 24 states, by 1983 it grew to 35 states. Imagine, it took only one mothers pain and anguished loss to cause such a massive and profound movement.

Funds are necessary for MADD to survive, in the beginning of its tenure large insurance companies donated money and amazingly enough the founders of these companies were in one form or another, victims of alcohol related incidents. Since then, MADD has formed other ways of raising money, please refer to to get further information.

MADD has taken on and accomplished legislative laws, impacted communities and had an iconic impression throughout the nation from generations past and generations to come. In 1984 the uniform drinking age was passed to 21 years of age. This had a diverse explosion and MADD was the spearhead of this change.

By the end of 1984 MADD had 330 chapters in 47 states. MADD was a force of change and emotional support held together by people whose lives had been negatively affected by drunk drivers. In 1985 Candice left MADD and the organization was taken over by a board of corporate members. MADD had become financially solvent. Financial issues were galore, due to the capacity MADD had grown into. The executive board worked hard and managed to stabilize and organize MADD in order to continue its life saving crusade.

The main objective of MADD is to help victims be healthy again - for MADD this is not a financial intake.

On May 14, 1988 the worst drunk driving accident in history happened. A drunk driver drove head on into a bus full of young people returning home from a church outing. 24 young people and 3 adults died that day. The few survivors were mortified with memories of watching their friend’s burn to death. MADD was the only organization on the scene, giving support to the families of the victims. One more time, MADD was there to pick up the pieces of the careless decision an intoxicated person made by choosing to drive.

By 1990 MADD's message was loud and began to have a significant effect. Alcohol related traffic accidents had dropped by 44,400 and at the same time the BAL law changed from .10 to .08. Mad stood stern and proved that .10 was too high of an alcohol level to get behind the wheel of an automobile -- one more time MADD was successful in passing another safety law.

These changes have not been easy, many hours and devotion is put into passing laws by the volunteers that make MADD what it is. MADD -- one leaf at a time has turned the once hushed topic of drinking and driving into a loud voice that will never again be silenced -- giving justice, support and change where it was much needed.

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