Forty years ago, a grieving mother set into motion a national movement that has saved tens of thousands of lives. A drunk driver, out of jail just two days following his fourth drunk driving arrest, had struck and killed Candace Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter Cari as she walked to a church carnival with a friend.
Candace founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) at a kitchen table in 1980, when 25,000 people died in these preventable crashes every year. Today, MADD continues to fight drunk driving, still the leading killer on America’s roads that kills about 10,000 people a year.
As MADD turns 40, the organization also is taking on the emerging threat of drug-impaired driving. In September, MADD released its first-ever Cannabis report. Data drawn from the report will be used to help MADD educate the public and guide MADD’s fight to prevent tragedies caused by both alcohol- and drug-impaired driving.
As a victim services organization dedicated to serving the victims of drunk and drug-impaired driving, eliminating these violent crimes, and preventing the tragic consequences of underage drinking, MADD reaches hundreds of thousands of people every year. In 2020, MADD quickly responded to the new challenges caused by the pandemic. MADD provided continuous service through its 24-hour Victim Helpline, virtual outreach to youth and parents, and expanded availability of virtual Victim Impact Panels to ensure drunk and drugged driving offenders could still fulfill their obligations to the courts.
Even during the pandemic, MADD’s tenacious advocacy led the U.S. House of Representatives to pass federal legislation in July that would result in all new vehicles being equipped with drunk driving prevention technology. This lifesaving legislation gained bipartisan support in the Senate, and if passed, could become law as early as next year. With an estimated 9,400 lives that would be saved by drunk driving prevention technology, MADD is making significant strides toward the ultimate goal — a future of No More Victims.