For the past 24 years, M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) have campaigned during the holiday season to make the public aware of the seriousness of driving sober and being buckled up.  Everyone knows that there are more drunk, drugged, distracted drivers on the roads during December than probably any other time.  

Originally named Project Red Ribbon, their campaign started in 1986, to heighten public awareness to drinking and driving during holidays.  Their goal was to get the public involved by tying a red ribbon to a visible place on their vehicle, such as an antenna or side mirror.  By doing so, you are pledging to drive sober and buckle up.  That is a pretty simple request; I hope to see lots of red ribbons on cars as we travel this Friday.

If you live in an area where there is a M.A.D.D. affiliate, you can pick up red ribbons – they are free!  If not, go buy some and do your part.  Anyone can promote this worthwhile cause.  There are easy ways to do so: leave a recorded phone message; display drunk driving statistics at work, distribute ribbons at meetings or parties, and most of all – be a responsible party host! 

Because this is such an important subject, I am going to re-post drunk driving statistics from an earlier article, “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest:”

Statistics from National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that during last year, a total of 10,839 persons were killed in alcohol-related vehicle accidents (that’s one person every 48 minutes!)  Of those:

        7,281 –  (67%) of the fatalities were drivers with a BAC of .08 or more;

       1,772 –  (17%) of fatalities were passengers with the impaired drivers.

        1,119 –  (10%) of fatalities were occupants of other vehicles.

           667 –   (6%) of fatalities were pedestrians or non-occupants of the vehicles.

That represents almost 11,000 persons who lost their lives because of alcohol abuse in 2009, many of them innocent victims. 

M.A.D.D. members are comprised of many parents and others who have lost loved ones because of the selfish act of irresponsible driving.  Not only does the public have to contend with drunk drivers, but those who are under the influence of drugs, and other distractions, such as texting and talking on a cell phone while driving.  Persons need to realize that the vehicle they are driving is a big piece of machinery that can’t drive itself!  (I wonder if we would drive more carefully if we pretended that the people in every car we meet or pass were our family members?)

Do your part this year, and go get a red ribbon to attach to your side mirror.  Let others know that you are going to be sober when you get behind the wheel and that you will buckle up before you start the car.  By displaying the ribbon, you are joining law enforcement and safety advocates in supporting M.A.D.D.’s cause.  Law enforcement officers will have a Zero tolerance for drinking and driving and will be checking seatbelt use, as well.

May you have safe and happy holidays this season!