Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a nonprofit organization formed in 1980 by Candice Laughter, a mother from California whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The aim of the organization is to reduce drunk driving and also deal with other related issues. MADD has four primary objectives: end drunken driving, support victims of drunk driving, fight drugged driving, and stop underage drinking. MADD is located both in the United States and Canada.
In 2013, three teenagers were left orphaned after a woman driving under influence rammed into both of their parents and killing them instantly while they were out walking their dog in Menlo Park, California (Redell, Bob, and Stephanie Chuang n.p.). Interestingly, the woman was a repeat offender as she had been convicted of misdemeanor drunk driving charges in 2012. The legal system has not been effective in ensuring that DUI convicts are contained under the law as this woman continued with her habits even after been charged in 2012 and this time the results were fatal.
Statistics from the CDC indicate that 28 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver (n.p.). Furthermore, the CDC also outline that the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes amounts to more than $44billion. Some of these costs include insurance rates, taxes, medical costs and properly costs. The ultimate cost of DUI is human lives. CDC notes that over 200 children under the age of 14 died due to alcohol impaired crashes. Surprisingly, MADD found out that 50 to 70% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license (“MADD – Drunk Driving Statistics” n.p.). The problem is serious than widely thought and more interventions both regulatory and non-regulatory need to be implemented.
One of the best and most effective solutions to DUI is the ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock system is installed in cars of drunken drivers who have previously been convicted. The system does not allow the car to start if it detects that the driver’s breath has alcohol exceeding a particular limit (varies according to state). In some states, the ignition interlock system is not mandatory for all DUI offenders, but looking at the previously mentioned case of the repeat offender who orphaned three children, it is imperative to ensure it is mandatory in all states. According to MADD, the ignition interlocks have been successful as they have stopped more than 1.7 million would-be drunk drivers across the country since the implementation of the laws (“MADD – New MADD Report” n.p.). The laws have proved to be effective but more needs to be done with regards to implementation and enforcement.
The 1.7 million people are parents who have been given a second chance to take care of the children and also teenagers who have been given a chance to build their future and contribute to the society. It is wise to note that if the ignition interlock laws are made mandatory and strictly enforced, the number of saved lives and injuries would increase exponentially. Inaction means more children are left with single parents or orphaned, increased cost of DUI/DWI-related accidents and loss of human lives.
The onus is on everyone to communicate to their representatives and launch a campaign that supports ignition interlocks for all DUI convicts. MADD website has an option of contacting decision makers such as Senators, Representatives and Governors on the same. Constituents should push for ignition interlock programs in their respective states that complement the efforts of the law by assisting drivers convicted with DUI/DWI change their behavior. The laws can suspend the license of DUI convicts but it is important to go further and influence a positive behavior in drivers through such programs. In a nutshell, the people should champion for ignition interlock laws and programs.
All in all, there are numerous interventions that are available in reducing incidences of DUI/DWI but ignition interlock system is one of the most effective ones. The system stops the actual action from being committed compared to other interventions that primarily try to convince potential drunk drivers from driving under the influence.