Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a non-profit organization founded in the United States which focuses on the single issue of drunk driving. Drunk driving is a major problem in many nations, resulting in serious accidents and deaths every year. The organization would like to permanently stop all drunk driving in the United States, and it approaches this goal in a number of ways. There is also a sister organization in Canada, and there are smaller branches in other nations as well.
Drunk drivers often cause automobile crashes because they have slower reaction times and poor judgment. Unfortunately, the victims of these car crashes are often innocent. Passengers in other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists are just as likely to be killed through drunk driving as the driver. As a result, many people feel that drunk driving is irresponsible, because it endangers the lives of others. In the United States, the activity is also illegal.
MADD was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner after the death of her 13 year old daughter, Cari. Her daughter was struck by a drunk driver while walking down the street in Sacramento, California. Angered and saddened by this incident, Lightner decided to start an organization to fight drunk driving. By the mid-1980s, MADD had become extremely popular all over the United States, with a huge member base to draw upon.
The primary goal of the organization is to stop all drunk driving. The organization also later added a measure to curb underage drinking to their mission statement. The organization uses a number of tactics which are sometimes controversial to achieve these goals. Critics of MADD have argued that the organization sometimes abridges civil liberties in its eagerness to stop drunk driving. Supporters argue that being killed by a drunk driver is an even more severe restriction of civil liberties, for the victim.
One of the fields in which MADD is extremely active is drunk driving legislation. The organization is responsible for nation-wide legislation which penalizes drunk driving more uniformly across the states, and also increases the severity of the punishment. The group lobbied for a reduction of the legal blood alcohol limit to .08, for example, and it supports heavier fines and fail time for offenders. MADD also supports a heavy crackdown on repeat offenders.
In addition, MADD participates in victim advocacy and education. The organization assists victims of drunk drivers, along with survivors, in a variety of ways. MADD advocates for victim impact statements in trials for drunk drivers, stages massive publicity campaigns to raise awareness about drunk driving, and also educates people in schools and drivers education programs. The organization claims that there has been a significant decrease in alcohol-related accidents since its founding in 1980.