MADD national presidents meet with NHTSA acting administrator


Group pledges to build on longstanding partnership to end drunk driving

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Washington, DC — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Helen Witty and five former National Presidents met with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator James C. Owens on Monday to share MADD’s vision for eliminating drunk driving. On Tuesday, MADD joined Owens in Kansas City, Mo., for the kickoff of NHTSA’s December “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday road safety campaign.

“We are united in our goal of creating a nation of No More Victims. We know that we can’t do it alone, and we are counting on NHTSA’s continued emphasis on eliminating drunk driving,” Witty said.

On Monday, Witty was joined by past presidents Karolyn Nunnallee (1998-1999), Millie Webb (2000-2002), Wendy Hamilton (2002-2005), Glynn Birch (2005-2008) and Jan Withers (2011-2014), all of whom worked with NHTSA during their time at MADD.

“What we represent is MADD’s long and successful history of working with our partners in traffic safety, law enforcement and policy making to stop the violent, 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving,” Witty said of the group of MADD National Presidents.

Said Owens: “Of the more than 36,000 lives lost on our nation’s roads in 2018, more than 10,000 were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. NHTSA works closely with safety partners like MADD to educate the public about the dangers of driving impaired and remind them that impaired driving deaths are completely preventable. Throughout the holiday season, NHTSA will be reminding everyone to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over—lives are at stake.”

Witty briefed Administrator Owens on the four elements of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: Support for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, advocating for advanced drunk driving prevention technology in all new cars, and taking personal responsibility for always choosing a non-drinking driver when plans include alcohol. The Campaign, now in its 13th year, has led to the passage of hundreds of laws across the nation, including 34 states that require ignition interlocks for all offenders.

Advanced drunk driving prevention technology, Witty said, is now closer to reality than ever before with the introduction of the RIDE Act by Senators Tom Udall and Rick Scott, and the HALT Act by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Both federal bills push for passive detection technology in new vehicles in the next few years.

“This technology has been under development for years, and all of us here are excited to see this deployed as a standard safety feature,” Witty said. “We are still losing over 10,000 people every year to drunk driving. We will not be satisfied until we get to zero deaths and zero families approaching the holidays without their loved ones with them. Technology will be the driving factor to get us to zero.”

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 to save more than 390,000 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 www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD

Group pledges to build on longstanding partnership to end drunk driving

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