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MADD Research Papers

MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has made a difference in the number of teenage car accidents because of alcohol abuse over the past 30 years. In 1980, around a grief-stricken mother’s kitchen table, the idea for MADD began. Mothers fighting for stronger drunk driving laws and committing themselves to education young people about the dangers of drunk driving form the basis of MADD’s philosophy.

A number of actions have been taken to reduce the number of teenagers involved in alcohol related traffic fatalities. By the year 2000, almost every U.S. state had lowered its Blood Alcohol level from .10 to .08. The effects of this decrease have been noted in studies across the nation. In every state where the Blood Alcohol level was reduced, alcohol related traffic fatalities decreased. This evidence is supported by a study of the effects of alcohol on teenagers that suggests that teenage boys are eighteen times more likely to be in an automobile accident if they have a Blood Alcohol level of .05, while teenage girls are fifty four times more likely. Other current actions being taken against teenage drunk driving include the formation of various action groups, including the following:

  • SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving)
  • MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)

These group severe a variety of functions, such as educating the public and teenagers about the risks associated with drunk driving, encouraging community support against teenage drinking, and working with police organizations to catch businesses who supply teens with alcohol.


Although MADD has been successful in reducing the number of teens involved in alcohol related car accidents, many additional programs exist that could effectively reduce these numbers even further. One of these programs is known as Safe Rides. The program was founded in New Jersey in 2000, and has been successful in reducing drunken driving rates and fatalities in there and in several other major cities since its beginning. Within this program, business cards are distributed among high school and college students within a community. These cards include a telephone number that can be used to contact the Safe Rides service. During the evening, particularly on weekends, community volunteers work from a dispatch area were the take calls from teenagers who are too intoxicated to drive. The volunteers travel to the teen’s location, pick them up, and take them home. The service is free of charge since the program operates on a volunteer basis.

The program owes much of its success to the fact that it operates in a nonjudgmental fashion. Teenagers do not have to identify themselves and “face no repercussions for using the service”. The entire purpose of the program is to reduce the number of teenagers on the road who are under the influence of alcohol. While this program is effective because of its use of a nonjudgmental method to reduce drunk driving rates, other programs are particularly effective because they include a strict moral criteria.

One program that has been particularly effective in using these moral criteria to reduce teenage alcohol consumption and drunk driving has been the Victim Impact Programs implemented in Orange Country California by the MADD organization in 1987. Since that time, the program has expanded to include a number of major cities across the country. The program is aimed at affecting first time offenders who have been arrested for drunk driving. The offenders, in addition to the standard fines and/or probation implemented by the court system, are required to meet with a panel discussion group comprised entirely of individuals whose family members have been killed by drunk drivers. The impact of these discussion can often times be very dramatic. These offenders are required “to discuss the implications of their actions in a face to face manner”. These discussion panels are intended to reduce the number of repeat offenders by forcing the individual to realize what could happen if they drink and drive again.

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