Posted by: charityinfo | October 28, 2011

MADD About Drunk Driving

On May 3, 1980, thirteen year-old Cari Lightner was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The driver, forty-six year-old Clarence Busch, had been released from prison less than a week prior on bail from a hit-and-run charge and had a long list of intoxication-related offenses. The police told Lightner’s mother, Candy, that it was unlikely Busch would spend any time in jail for her daughter’s death. Subsequently, on the eve of her daughter’s funeral while waiting in a cocktail lounge with friends Candy Lightner announced, on the spur of the moment and fueled by the anger and hurt from her daughter’s death, that she was going to start an organization to combat lenient drunk driving laws and to keep other people from being injured or killed by drunk drivers. That organization was named Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

MADD

Since its founding in 1980, MADD has been instrumental in raising the national mandated drinking age to 21, reducing the blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit to .08 from .10, and a number of other laws and practices. Coupled with lawmaker’s efforts, MADD’s work to educate the public on the dangers of drinking and driving and of drunk driving accidents of all kinds has led to a decline in drunk driving fatalities. According to internal data, MADD helps someone harmed by drunk driving every nine minutes.

While Mothers Against Drunk Driving does an important work, critics of the organization say that some of its policies, overreach. For instance, MADD is a strong advocate of the practice of randomly stopping drivers to check BAC levels though critics argue that the random roadblocks do little more than discourage casual drinkers and fail to make any real impact on drunk drivers. MADD’s current mission has changed since its inception: instead of simply focusing on driving while under the influence of alcohol, it now seeks to curb all alcohol use. In 2002, Lightner, who left the organization in 1985 when it began to move away from her goal of reducing drunk driving, said “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving turns thirty-one this year. And despite all of its accomplishments, its seeming need to be involved in every arena of life that alcohol could possibly reach makes MADD appear to be an organization still searching for identity.

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