Yesterday, I was honored to join hundreds of victims and advocates on the West Lawn of the US Capitol to mark the 30th anniversary of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
It was an event of mixed emotions. On the one hand, we could celebrate the more than 300,000 lives saved by MADD since 1980. But, on the other, we were there to remember the thousands of victims killed by drunk drivers on America's roads every year.
We have come a long way. Since 1980, drunk-driving related fatalities have dropped by more than 40%. Between 2006 and 2009 alone, they declined by 20%. And we owe much of the progress we have made to the effective advocacy MADD has demonstrated--at the local, state, and federal levels--for 30 tireless years.
But we have a long distance yet to travel. Impaired drivers are involved in nearly one-third of all roadway deaths. That means almost 11,000 people were killed in 2009 when drunk drivers ignored the law, ignored common sense, and ignored the personal responsibility that is part and parcel of our driving privileges.
Clearly, our work is not done. And any progress we continue to make will almost certainly be in partnership with those who gathered yesterday on the Capitol lawn in support of MADD.
We need those advocates to keep holding our feet to the fire, to keep demanding sound laws, to keep pushing for stronger enforcement, and to keep reminding Americans that it is not okay to drink and drive.
Congratulations to MADD C.E.O. Kimberly Earle, MADD President Laura Dean-Mooney, and all the members of MADD--past and present. You have made America's roads significantly safer for all of us.