Newberry NOTES appreciates the opportunity to feature Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one of the largest crime victim organizations in the United States. MADD has helped more than 300,000 lives and assisted in the passage of hundreds of drunk driving prevention laws.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, founded in l980, is a non-profit organization with more than three million members and supporters. MADD National headquarters is located in Irvin, Texas. MADD South Carolina was activated in 1983, MADD Newberry County activated in 1989. Steven Burritt is the program director for South Carolina MADD, located in Irmo.
Their mission is to prevent drunk driving, support victims of this violent crime, and prevent underage drinking.
The best secret is Victim Services. MADD’s most important work goes unseen. Trained victim advocates perform many duties from the moment of a crash when a victim calls for help. The service offered is peer support and guidance by the advocate for the bereaved family, information of legal rights in justice system and accompaniment to court for moral support. Victim advocate services represent the “voice of the victim” and continue as long as needed. These services are free of charge.
The Red Ribbon Campaign is an awareness program that encourages a red ribbon be tied to a visible location on a vehicle as a message, “Tie One on For Safety.” It serves as a memorial to those killed or injured by drunk drivers.
As people begin preparing for the holiday season, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is as well. To help combat the annual increase in drunk driving crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, MADD each year celebrates its Tie One On For Safety Campaign to promote the use of nondrinking designated drivers.
The Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope is a liturgy program that provides a ritual service for victims to remember loved ones injured or killed by a drunk driver.
Sobriety Checkpoint Emphasis is annually supported and emphasized by MADD as one of the most effective enforcement weapons to combat this national crisis of drunk driving. Law enforcement officers throughout the state conduct sobriety checks during the holidays. The goals are to prevent deaths and injuries by impaired drivers and encourage the use of safety belts. The theme for the holidays – “You Drink & Drive. You lose.”
South Carolina had 331 drunk driving deaths in 2016. That is sixth most in the nation, though we are 23rd in population. While 10,497 were killed nationwide by drunk driving, that is more than 50% fewer than when MADD was founded in 1980. That is more than 170,000 lives saved. On average, two in three people will be impacted by a drunk driver in their lifetime. An average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before arrest.
Underage Drinking: There are 4,700 deaths each year in the U.S. due to underage drinking. An estimated 85 South Carolinians under 21 die each year from alcohol use. 29% of S.C high school students drink alcohol. Reports show that three in four teens say their parents are the leading influence in their decision about drinking alcohol.
In 1915, MADD provided more than 119,000 supporter services to victims and survivors of drunk and drugged crashes. MADD has helped save about 30,000 young lives with the passage of the 21 minimum drinking age law.
MADD has served nearly 840,000 victims since its founding.
Through continued support of the public, MADD will be better able to face the challenges ahead and continue to pave the way for a future in which America’s roadways are free from drunk driving.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.