Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Jan Withers called for a summit of traffic safety leaders to renew the focus on proven traffic safety solutions because technological progress on targeting drunk driving and other safety issues is not occuring fast enough.
"MADD is prepared to call a summit meeting of leading traffic safety organizations and companies committed to keeping our roads safe. This summit would focus on a practical and realistic national traffic safety action plan that has all of us moving in the same direction, assuring that we save the most lives in the shortest time period," said Withers.
Withers made her remarks during a keynote address at the 30th Anniversary Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Orlando, Fla.
"We need to commit ourselves to working together to support the strongest laws on all issues — drunk driving, distraction, belt use, child seats, teens — the best enforcement of those laws, and broad awareness by the driving public that unsafe behavior will not be tolerated," she added.
Withers cited MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving as an example of success as a result of science-based solutions. The campaign has helped require ignition interlocks for all offenders in 17 states, up from just one since its inception in 2006, and every state now has some form of ignition interlock law.
MADD has also advocated for support of technology — the Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety (DADSS) — that would secure the future by preventing drunk drivers from starting their vehicles. MADD said thousands of lives would be saved each year with implementation of this advanced in-vehicle technology.
"If the driver has a BAC of .08 or higher, the illegal level in all 50 states, the vehicle would not be operable by the driver. In fact, unless a driver is drunk, he or she won't know that the technology is even in the car," said Withers.
She added that the progress to date on the DADSS technology "is remarkable, yet more research and testing need to be done. This is truly game-changing technology," and MADD urges Congress to pass pending legislation, which would assure the research program's continued viability.
MADD said it plans to reach out to many of the traffic safety groups at the Lifesavers Conference to formulate the traffic safety summit.
"We must take a comprehensive approach and focus on the countermeasures that will help use our safety resources in the most cost-beneficial way. And we must reject doing the things that feel good, but do no good," concluded Withers.
MADD was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner, the mother of a daughter struck and killed as a pedestrian by a repeat drunk-driving offender. A past president of the organization is Karolyn Nunnalee, whose daughter Patty was killed in 1988 when a drunk driver struck a church bus head on near Carrolton, Ky.