What do Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and The National Football League (NFL) have in Common?

They are Partners.

The NFL partnered with MADD in 2010 and endorsed their “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving”.

“MADD and the National Football League joined forces in 2010 to collaborate on player and employee programs, game day initiatives, community relations and awareness programs to promote MADD’s “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.” As a first step in this partnership, MADD representatives presented to incoming NFL players at the 2010 NFL Rookie Symposium. MADD will continue to serve in an advisory role to the NFL in its initiatives and develop other opportunities to generate awareness, promote responsible behavior and prevent drunk driving.

On 12.10.11, MADD sent out a press release from Dallas celebrating National Drunk Driving Fatalities Falling to Lowest Level on Record.

And, on 12.8.12, the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys sent out a press release regarding the untimely and tragic death of their player, Jerry Brown, due to vehicular manslaughter by teammate, Josh Brent. One NFL player killing another, while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Again, what do they have in common? They are partners. Strange bedfellows.

This could really be a good thing if implemented and remembered? But, let’s see how this will work out, especially in light of this recent tragedy. And tragedy it is. And as we enter another holiday season.

I started this blog with tragedy in my heart, since I am currently living through this same tragic experience in my family. I am sitting in the same situation as Josh Brent. It is awful when when a DUI occurs and results in death, especially when both drivers involved in the accident were drinking and impaired. No one wins. Especially when one dies and one goes to prison. It’s like the gun ownership theory. “Guns don’t kill people, guns in the hands of “madmen” kill people”. Well, cars don’t kill people, but cars driven by impaired drivers kill people. So, is it the GUN or the CAR....???

Let’s see what the partnership involves.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, now in existence for 25 years, prides itself on being one of the largest victim services organizations in the country. They have partnered with the NFL, proud of it’s sport and also associated with “huge pre-game tailgating parties” and the largest drinking crowd in the world. Seems like a good partnership.

According to information from MADD:

MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving focuses on three important steps we all can take today to stop drunk driving tomorrow:

Support our heroes. Support high-visibility law enforcement to catch drunk drivers and discourage others from driving drunk.

(My Spin: Start with NFL football games and the NFL game day, itself for performing sobriety checkpoints.)

Sober to start. Require ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, for all drunk drivers, to prove they are sober before their car will start.

(My spin…Remember drunk drivers can rent cars, and they don’t need to be convicted of any previous crime. There were 147 million drunk drivers reported by the NTSA is 2010. So how does that work?)

Secure the future. Support the development of technology to determine automatically whether or not the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and failing to operate if the driver is drunk.

(My spin:….….That means “all vehicles/cars, including my car needs this technology, not just those people identified as having some prior occurance and labeled as “drunk drivers”.)

Recent stories about people involved with DUI’s include stories about the head of the FAA driving under the influence, an executive with Ford Motor Company and a retired NFL (Lions) football player (convicted in 1988 of vehicular homicide of three people), along with Jalen Rose.....all DUI’s. No one had their car previously rigged to prevent them from driving. In fact, no one had been identified as a drunk driver. Perhaps, it is a more accurate statement to say that, if you are drinking, and you get in a car, then your car or any car should fail to start when you touch the steering wheel.

ABC News political journalist Sam Donaldson was recently arrested for driving under the influence. WGMD-FM reported that Donaldson, 78, was pulled over on Savannah Road in Delmarva, Delaware by Lewes Police on December 1 (2012) for a traffic violation. A police officer said Donaldson had been drinking. ***

Bottom line, No one is exempt from this problem and everybody who drinks alcohol, is driving under the influence, so any car they attempt to drive should shut itself down....automatically.

Let's stop the insanity. Just stop the vehicles.

If so, then much can be done, that hasn’t been done already.
Well, if you want to “eliminate drunk driving”, then common sense tells you to enforce objective number 1: “sobriety checkpoints”.

Recent Data is as follows:

Sobriety checkpoints: traffic stops where law enforcement officers assess drivers’ level of alcohol impairment. These checkpoints consistently reduce alcohol-related crashes, typically by 20%.

Given the components of the campaign, sobriety checkpoints, should be the rule and all people leaving the game should have a sobriety check.

My spin......It is well known that all those hours of pre-game tail gating “ain’t no way” to eliminate drunk driving, especially by the end of the game. But, I’m glad the NFL has stepped up to support MADD…..since they both represent some very likely victims of their own campaign. Players, patrons, sponsors and families are at the game, drinking and just out to have a good time.

Ignition interlocks: devices that are installed in the vehicles of people who have been convicted of driving while impaired. They prevent operation of the vehicle by anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a specified safe level (usually 0.02% – 0.04%). When installed, interlocks are associated with about a 70% reduction in arrest rates for impaired driving.

My spin: Ignition interlock devices won’t put a dent in the 112 to 147 million people who get behind the wheel intoxicated, each year.

Although the death rate has fallen, according to the data written above, the real data from the CDC and NHTSA regarding drinking while intoxicated is not that encouraging.

According to a press release from (Reuters Health) - More than half of U.S. drivers killed in car accidents had alcohol or drugs in their system at the time of the crash, according to a new study. Therefore, drivers in fatalities are also drunk, not just the drunk driver who hit the vehicle.

“Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on fatalities in 14 states, researchers found that men and people driving at night were the most likely to have alcohol, marijuana or other illicit or prescription drugs show up on a toxicology screen after the accident.”

In addition, “US adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010. Alcohol-impaired drivers* are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009.”
*These drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of at least 0.08%. This is the illegal blood alcohol concentration level for adult drivers in the United States.

According to MADD, “While we have much to celebrate today, we are also reminded of the 9,878 precious lives lost to drunk driving in 2011 and the countless loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces,” said Withers. “In addition, we know that preliminary numbers indicate an overall increase for highway deaths in 2012, so MADD is reminding people across the country to remain vigilant in always planning ahead for a sober designated driver during the holidays and year-round.”

If MADD and the NFL really want to make an intelligent difference with immediate positive results in the injury data, they should push for an action that could make a hell of a difference. Just create sobriety checkpoints surrounding driver exits leaving all football games.

I know this effort was attempted before by an outside agency, then stopped, since the results were alarming. Therefore, I’m sure that my proposal won’t be taken seriously, although it could create serious positive results.

My recent attendance at a Detroit Lions football game was far from the rhetoric that is promised by both the NFL and MADD. My 6 year old grandson and I were doused with beer, cussed out and literally forced to leave the game…..early. Yep, and the Lions lost, too.

Incredible amounts of work has to be done to make these initiatives more than “just words”.

My closing argument about “driving while intoxicated” is still being created. I am far from finished with my investigation of this social concern, and my call to action will factor in all of the above, plus some.

In closing, the recommendation about disabling vehicles for those with previous convictions makes some good sense.

But, I’m reminded of the true story about a police officer who visited an elementary school to teach children about car safety and seat belt use. He asked the children, “What is the first thing you do when you get into a car?” A little girl anxiously raised her hand and yelled out… “I lean over and blow into my Mommie’s breatholizer, so that she can start her car”. Truth, from the mouth of babes.
Remember to drive responsibly and stop anyone, including yourself from getting behind the wheel drunk. You may protect the ones you love.

Author's Bio: 

Cynthia Shelby-Lane is a physician, speaker, author, talk show host, and comedienne. Yes, she believes that laughter is good medicine and she has the research, experience and talent to prove it. She is a “doctor by day” and a comedienne by night.

As a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School and The Second City School of Comedy in Chicago, she also founded her own comedy troupe, Girlfriend Village & Company.

Shelby Lane’s candid and comedic speaking style and her zany approach to life allows her to engage an audience with humor, using truly unforgettable stories, jokes and situations that alter your perception of how life should and could be. She has dramatic tales of survival “in the hood” that demonstrate our ability to laugh, even when the cards are down. Her message and mantra is “Laugh More - Live Longer”.