Anyone reading this is most likely a car enthusiast. We think, dream, and obsess over cars as part of our lives and part of our American culture. However, driving can also be dangerous, and drunk or drugged drivers continue to be one of the most pervasive threats to road safety.
Although my family hasn’t personally been impacted by drunk driving, I’ve met many people who have lost family or friends, and their stories are both tragic and compelling.
At CARCHEX, we act as a consumer advocate throughout the full cycle of car buying and ownership. We help keep roadways safe by keeping vehicles repaired, inspected, insured, and favorably financed. We believe that our corporate vision meshes closely with that of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and we’ve proudly collaborated with this organization since January 2014. We see it as part of our corporate responsibility to try to make the world a better place, and we also want the dream of car ownership to be alive for many generations to come.
In the 1980s, over 20,000 people were killed in drunk driving related accidents each year. Thanks to efforts like MADD, that number has been reduced to less than 10,000 per year. Even though things are getting better, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
The sad truth is that every 51 minutes, a person loses their life due to an accident related to drunk driving. Also, two out of three people will be affected in some way by drunk driving in their lifetime. Everyday 28 people are killed by drunk driving.
Here are some more stats from MADD to consider:
In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
An average drunk driver has driven drunk more than 80 times before an arrest.
Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.
Compared To Other Countries
In South Africa, an astounding 58 percent of traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving. The United States is around 31 percent. That puts us higher than most European countries including the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany.
Russia’s drunk driving fatality rate is only 9 percent.
It’s hard to pin down exactly why the U.S. numbers are so high. Some say the legal blood alcohol limit should be reduced. Others believe more roadside alcohol breath testing will make a difference. Improved awareness certainly helps. A general increase in responsibility is required to make a change. Things are improving over time, but as Americans, we can do much better.
How To Make An Impact
There are lots of ways we can help save lives on the road. For example, signing up for events, like the Walk Like MADD campaign, helps raise funds and awareness. You can also write to your local legislators to express support for laws that make our roadways safer. Last year, the Maryland chapter of MADD was instrumental in getting the all-offender ignition interlock bill passed in the state of Maryland. This law requires ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders.
At CARCHEX, our Vehicle Protection Specialists mention our relationship with MADD on every sales call, and literature about MADD is included in every customer welcome packet. This is a simple way companies and businesses of all sizes can help create awareness.
We also encourage responsible behavior at our company outings. We tell our team to have a good time, but think smart. If they plan on drinking we tell them to call a cab, rideshare service or have a designated driver.
A big component of road safety is good decision making. Drinking and driving truly don’t mix, and so if you’ve had a drink – even one – you should find a safe mode of transportation. It’s also important to personally advocate for safe driving. Offer non-alcoholic options at events you organize or host, and insist your friends and co-workers drive safely.
Having alternate transportation arranged in advance for guests is a good option too.
CARCHEX supports MADD on a national level, and I also donate my time as a member of the MADD Maryland Advisory Board. I currently serve in the capacity of co-fundraising chair, and devote time each week to planning and organizing events to raising awareness about this important cause. This position has been personally gratifying for me, especially when I see family and friends – even some from high school and college – reaching out with donations or showing support by attending events.
Recently we participated as a company in Baltimore’s Walk Like MADD event and raised $7,646. By the end of 2016, CARCHEX will have raised over $85,000 to support MADD’s efforts to eliminate drunk driving.
There are many ways that you can make a difference too. Consider volunteering for educational workshops in your local school system or community. Become a trained help line volunteer for MADD, or send a personal note to families of victims of drunk driving accidents. It’s also important to acknowledge the hard work our law enforcement officials do, so if you see them at a sobriety checkpoint say thank you.
When we looked for a nonprofit that had meaning to us, the automotive and protection themes of MADD resonated deeply with our brand. We’re proud to do it, and we know human lives are at stake. It’s a cause we we can all stand with and rally behind.
Joe Campanella is the Executive Vice President, Business Development for CARCHEX, a leading provider of vehicle protection and vehicle inspection services. Joe received his B.S. in Engineering from the University of Maryland. He is an Advisory Board Member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Maryland, and is a licensed property & casualty insurance producer in 45 states.