Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner, whose daughter was tragically killed by a drunk driver who was a repeat offender. The goal of MADD was to reduce drunk driving traffic fatalities and the organization has been highly effective in raising public disapproval of drunk driving. The proportion of traffic fatalities that are alcohol-related has dropped dramatically, in part because of MADD's good efforts. For more, visit Drinking and Driving.
MADD recognizes that the problem of drunken driving has now largely been reduced to a "hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal." 1 Most drivers who have had something to drink have low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and few are involved in fatal accidents or crashes. 2 On the other hand, while only a few drivers have BAC's higher than .15, many of those drivers have fatal crashes. 3 For example, almost half of fatally injured drunk drivers have a BAC of .16 (which is twice the legal limit) or higher. 4
The biggest problem in reducing drunk driving fatalities now consists of the hard core of alcoholic drivers who repeatedly drive with BAC's of .15 or higher. But MADD has now decided to go after social drinkers and to eliminate driving after drinking any amount of alcohol beverage. This change appears to reflect the influence of a growing neo-prohibitionist movement within MADD.
The founding president of MADD, Candy Lightner, left in disgust from the organization that she herself created because of its change in goals. "It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned," she says. "I didn't start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving." 5 Ms. Lightner has emphasized the importance of distinguishing between alcohol and drinking on one hand and drunk driving on the other. 6
Ms. Lightner has apparently put her finger on the problem when she says that if MADD really wants to save lives, it will go after the real problem drivers. 7 Instead, it has become temperance-oriented.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving stigmatizes light or moderate alcohol consumption, even when it isn't associated with either being underage or driving. For example:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has clearly become not simply anti-drunk driving or even anti-impaired driving, but anti-alcohol. MADD’s temperance orientation expresses itself in many ways, as seen in Is MADD Neo-Prohibitionist?
Unfortunately, Mothers Against Drunk Driving often uses junk science to promote its agenda. For example, a very brief three-page study by MADD former vice president Ralph Hingson made a statistical assertion in support of MADD’s policy agenda that the U.S. Department of Transportation had been unable to establish after 15 years of careful research. Even after the General U.S. Accounting Office issued a report to Congress insisting that the Hingson claim was "unfounded," MADD continues to quote the unsubstantiated estimate as scientific fact. 9
To learn more about MADD’s misuse science to promote its agenda, visit MADD, Junk Science, and the Misuse of Science.
Non-profit organizations typically permit their chapters to keep most of the money they raise. For example, Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) chapters get to keep 90% of all funds they raise. But MADD claims ownership of every penny raised by all its many chapters. Thus, after raising $129,000 locally and turning it all over as MADD demands, the Las Vegas chapter received a check from the national office for $1.29 (one dollar and twenty nine cents) as its share. 10 MADD's "focus is on greed," said the chapter President, who reported "I've never seen such bloodsuckers!" 11
All items in some issues of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's MADD E-Newsletter are devoted entirely to MADD's primary mission of fund-raising. There are no pleas for sober driving, no calls for more sobriety checkpoints, no news reports, no petitions for legislation to reduce impaired driving and improve traffic safety ---- just fund-raising appeals. Most issues of the MADD E-Newsletter usually have at least one or two items not devoted to soliciting money.
MADD's national web site lists all local chapters. Each listing is followed by a plea to "Donate Locally." This is clearly deceptive because it implies that funds given to local chapters will be handled differently than funds given to the national office. In reality, all funds, wherever donated, must go directly and completely to the national office for use as it sees fit.
To learn more about MADD’s focus on money and fund-raising, visit MADD’s Money isn’t Mad Money.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is fueled by anger and grief. In fact, its original name was Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. 12 As a leading researcher on drunk driving has observed, MADD is focused on
the demand for justice or vengeance on the group that took the lives of friends and children. This warrants harsh punishment, whether or not deterrence is achieved. It also leads to rejection or a lack of enthusiasm for policies that promise to save lives of crash victims without regard for the cause of an accident. 13
A case in point. Research suggests that using a cell phone while driving may cause more traffic fatalities than driving drunk. But when a MADD official was asked how traffic fatality statistics involving cell phone use compared to those involving drunk drivers, he tellingly replied "I have absolutely no idea, nor do I care." 14 The reason appears to be that MADD sees other causes of traffic accidents to be potential competitors for money and attention. 15
The president of MADD Canada was outraged and publicly blasted a judge who sentenced a repeat drunk driver to restrictions, including electronically-monitored severe limits on his mobility on condition he remain in treatment for his alcoholism. The driver had maintained a long period of sobriety before experiencing a relapse. In handing down the sentence, the judge cited scientific research demonstrating that severe punishments are ineffective in deterring drunk driving by alcoholics. Therefore, she developed a sentence designed to reinforce the long-term effectiveness of his rehabilitation.
MADD Canada strongly disagreed with the judge and wanted severe punishment rather than rehabilitation. 16
MADD’s anger and grief often lead it to disregard constitutional rights. To learn more about MADD’s stance toward human or civil rights, visit MADD and Citizens’ Constitutional Rights.
MADD's original goal was an enormously important one -- to reduce drunk driving and the deaths and injuries that it causes. However, as its founder observed, the group has become neo-prohibitionist. As a former MADD chapter president explains, it's "a big corporation" and "all about money." Unfortunately, what began as a dedicated volunteer group of caring women has become a largely indifferent self-serving bureaucracy.
» The President of one MADD chapter preaches that “alcohol is a threat to society.” 17
» MADD has announced that it will “vigorously” work to minimize or eliminate alcohol funding for the cultural celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and Juneteenth. Attacking such funding is not related to reducing drunken driving. Neither was MADD’s earlier press release, “Fewer Liquor Stores in Los Angeles Equals Reduced Crime,“ which made no mention of driving while intoxicated. 18
"Mothers Against Drunk Driving (has) decided to wage war on social drinkers."
» The international professional school, Johnson and Wales University, includes the study of wine in its culinary curriculum because that is an important part of much food preparation and service around the world. A bill introduced in the Florida legislature at the request of the university would permit adult students age 18 and older to participate fully in any curriculum requiring such courses. No alcohol would ever be consumed because the beverage would be savored and spit out in a supervised classroom environment. In spite of these strong protections and lack of any danger whatsoever, Mothers Against Drunk driving steadfastly refused to support this education bill. 19
» MADD spokesman David Delulis insists that “today’s underage drinker is tomorrow’s drunk driver.” 20 That’s a sobering assertion -- it’s also false.
The vast majority of underage people, including those adults who are 18-20, consume alcohol before reaching age 21. If MADD were correct, which it isn’t, the great majority of drivers in the future would be drunken drivers.
Think about it. Because a large majority of young people over the past half- century have consumed alcohol, the majority of drivers today would be drunken drivers if MADD were correct. Again, MADD is wrong.
MADD loses its credibility by making outlandishly false statements.
» A county fair in Minnesota requested approval for very limited sale of beer and wine in a restricted area surrounded by a six-foot high fence. However, MADD strongly opposed the idea. One representative of MADD said “this event is a family-oriented event and we don’t need (beer).” MADD’s chapter President insisted that if beer is served, her family “will no longer attend the fair.” 21
» Cheerwine is a non-alcoholic soft drink that has been marketed in Southern states for over 75 years. However, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has objected to both the name and the fact that the soft drink's market includes those under the age of 21! 22
» Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposes a proposal to permit adults age 19 and 20 actively serving in the military service to drink alcohol beverages within the state of Michigan. Says one legislator, “we’re treating these young men and woman as adults when they’re at war. But we treat them like teenagers when they’re here in the states.” 23
» Although cell phone use while driving is actually more dangerous than driving with a BAC of .08, MADD adamantly and repeatedly refuses to even discuss the issue. 24 On the other hand, MADD actively opposes any consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21, even when not associated in any way with driving. 25 In short, MADD ignores dangerous cell phone use while driving but adamantly opposes letting 20-year-old adults actively serving in the United States military enjoy a drink. It opposes the participation of an underage person in religious services involving the consumption of alcohol. It even opposes adults under the age of 21 toasting their mutual love at their wedding with a celebratory drink. 26
» Most alcohol-related traffic deaths occur when other important causal factors are present, such as using a cell phone, fatigue, drug use, inexperience in driving, road rage, speeding, poorly lit roads, and failure to use safety belts. 27 And, of course, most traffic fatalities don't involve any alcohol at all. If MADD really wanted to reduce traffic fatalities, it would also care about these major causes of traffic deaths --- but it clearly doesn't. MADD is no longer a safety-promotion organization but an anti-alcohol organization.
MADD's "ongoing push to compel states to adopt ever-lower standards for being legally drunk‚ is becoming a prohibitionist jihad driven by hysteria, not medical reality."
» MADD frequently insists that it’s not neo-prohibitionist. But in its own press release it reports that “MADD is calling on our country's leaders to help advocate for the rights of young people to grow up in alcohol-free environments.” 28 While MADD claims not to be a temperance group, its actions prove otherwise. What is an “alcohol-free environment“ if not a dry or prohibition environment?
» A new service in Orlando, Florida, delivers alcohol beverages to individuals of proven legal drinking age. The coordinator for Responsible Education and Actions for Campus Health at the University of Central Florida supports the idea because it could reduce drunk driving. " If it takes one drunk driver off the road, it's a good thing," she said, adding that the service is "really trying to be pro-active."
To prevent underage purchases, the service requires buyers to show their drivers licenses, which are digitally photographed.
Although the service sells only to adults of legal age and may reduce drunk and impaired driving, the president of the Central Florida chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls it "frightening" because there is no sure way to make certain that none of the beverage ever falls into the hands of a person under the age of 21. Of course, that's also true of alcoholic beverages purchased in a liquor store, wine shop, grocery store, or elsewhere.
MADD's opposition appears to have more to do with its anti-alcohol attitudes than with logic. 29
» The Tampa Bay Lightning offered patrons free beer during playoff hockey games if they purchased season tickets. The offer was limited to four beers, beverage servers are all trained to detect intoxication and won't serve to anyone who appears to be intoxicated, and the club offers free taxi rides home for anyone who thinks they may have had too much to drink. About 25 patrons took advantage of the marketing offer and no complaints were made against the marketing promotion.
Nevertheless, officials at Mothers Against Drunk Driving were outraged. "It's advertising irresponsible behavior. It's a huge insult to our community," insisted one MADD leader. Another MADD official said "they're obviously using alcohol to get business."
They were offering alcohol, not cocaine, heroin or other illegal drugs. Apparently MADD believes that drinking is irresponsible, an insult to others, and that alcohol is an unacceptable consumer product.
"Mothers Against Drunk Driving may soon have to change its name to Mothers Against Any Drinking Whatsoever -- that is, if it wants to avoid false advertising."
» To prevent unnecessary alcohol-related traffic crashes among young people, the Arizona State Department of Public Safety proposed providing high school students with Guardian Angel Personal Alcohol Test strips. The package conspicuously states that it is best not to drive even at low BAC levels. The Governor's Office of Highway Safety promotes the plan as the first part of an aggressive campaign to reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents. Although it is praised by many parents, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is strongly opposed to the plan, which it sees as inconsistent with the organization's strict abstinence message. 30
» It appears that MADD may continue to become even more anti-alcohol and temperance-oriented. Over 100 young people attended a four-day MADD Power Camp to prepare them for leadership roles in the organization. These young MADD activists understandably oppose drunk driving, as does everyone else. But many of these leaders-in-the-making oppose much more than DWI/DUI. They oppose all alcohol ads. They oppose any media portrayal of moderate drinking by senior citizens if it can be viewed by anyone under age 21. Some even oppose moderate drinking by adults of any age at any time under any circumstance. 31
» Former MADD official Ralph Hingson continues to churn out flawed reports used by the organization and other anti-alcohol groups. For example, he has estimated that alcohol kills 1,400 college students (now raised to 1,700) each year, although there is evidence suggesting that the number may be closer to 16 students each year. However, MADD presents Hingson’s estimates as solid, factual evidence and conveniently never mentions his connections with the group. 64
Mothers Against Drunk Driving "has basically become a propaganda mill churning out false and misleading statistics."
» A MADD ad campaign against underage drinking included purported "facts" linking alcohol to weight gain, rape and sexually transmitted diseases that weren't based on good evidence, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pro-MADD researchers James Mosher and Robert Reynolds criticized MADD's misuse of statistics. After reviewing MADD's ads, Reynolds informed MADD that "this is really sloppy, inadequate and embarrassing.... It imperils the integrity" of MADD and other groups in the field. MADD's assertion that underage drinkers are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than abstainers made James Mosher "cringe," according to the Wall Street Journal. Mosher stressed that there is no research "that shows there's a cause and effect and that's being implied" by MADD. 65
» When pioneering researcher Dr. Laurence Ross reported that increasing the severity of punishments for drunk driving has only a short-term impact on drunk driving, MADD turned on him with a vengeance usually reserved for drunk drivers themselves. It even accused Dr. Ross, a respected scholar with proven integrity, of being the drunk driver's best friend. 66 Actually, Dr. Ross is a strong foe of drunk driving who began studying the problem long before the existence of MADD. He has identified research-based evidence of what policies are most effective in reducing drunk driving. 67 Unfortunately for him, they are not always consistent with MADD's proposals.
» MADD makes misleading statements about the number of people killed by drunk drivers in an apparent effort to exaggerate the extent of the problem and enhance fundraising and legislative lobbying efforts. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that MADD’s PR makes “the problem look bigger than it is.” 68
Although it's declining, the problem of alcohol-related traffic fatalities remains very serious. However, there’s no legitimate reason to insist falsely that it’s “a growing epidemic.”
"MADD continues to inflate the number of people killed by drunk drivers to further its prohibitionist agenda."
Similarly, the Partnership for Safe Driving has criticized the President of MADD for misleading the public about road risks by asserting that "We don't want cell phones and drowsy driving to become the next hot-button issue for the country, because they don't even compare with the problem of drunk driving." The Partnership for Safe Driving points out that there are many forms of dangerous driving, including speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, dangerous police chases, operating a vehicle with poor brakes or tires, improperly loading vehicles, and unsafe towing practices.
The Partnership points out that it's completely legitimate for an organization to focus on only one of the causes of traffic fatalities. However, “trying to convince the public that just one form of dangerous driving is worthy of attention only serves to undermine the entire road safety movement.” The partnership emphasizes that dismissive comments about the dangers of
“distracted and drowsy driving would be akin to the American Heart Association speaking out against efforts to reduce the rate of cancer or cystic fibrosis. Whose interest would that serve? Certainly not the public's.
In reality, all forms of dangerous driving merit serious attention and ample funding. Those who suffer death or injury as a result of any form of dangerous driving suffer equally. We have never heard any family who lost a loved one to a sober speeder, a distracted driver, or a motorist who fell asleep at the wheel say, ‘Thank goodness the driver wasn't drunk.’ The pain and outrage are just as great regardless of what form of dangerous, irresponsible driving is involved.” 69
Research throughout North America has repeatedly demonstrated that the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of drivers involved in fatal traffic crashes is about 1.7. This is over twice the legal limit of .08.
"MADD generally attempts to mask its radical, neo-prohibitionist agenda in the veneer of sound science and sober statistics."
Yet the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers operation in Canada insists that the problem of hard-core drunken drivers is a myth. Its National Director of Legal Policy has even co-authored a paper titled “The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Hard-Core Drinking Driver,” with financial support (payment) from MADD Canada. 70
In calling for lowering the legal BAC down to .05 from the current .08, MADD Canada says that “scientific evidence” supports its position. 71 In reality, it doesn’t. MacLean’s, a leading Canadian magazine, points that
MADD selectively cites a study published in 2002 by Robert Mann of the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mann, in turn, had extracted those numbers from two separate studies whose data was culled from Sweden and Australia. The conclusions in Mann’s study seem to ignore the Swedish authors’ numerous caveats and cautions, as well as the limitations inherent to the Australian study. For starters, the Aussie study examined the effectiveness of random breath testing (spot checks), not lowered BAC levels, on fatal traffic collisions. Also, that research was initiated in 1976, at a time when liquid lunches were far more common. What’s more, the Australian statistics contained wide variations...” But from this obviously highly questionable study MADD selected only the number which was consistent with its argument. 72The Canada Safety Council, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation all take issue with MADD.
The Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving reports that most drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents have a very high BAC. MacLean’s says that the problem is drivers who repeatedly drive with BAC levels twice the legal limit, not social drinkers. The MADD proposal would make it illegal for a small woman to drive after consuming a single drink and would divert police attention and resources away from high-risk, high BAC, hard-core drivers.
» Mothers Against Drunk Driving is always hungry for more money. Although the organization’s financial investments exceed 25 million dollars, 78 it has paid telemarketers huge fees to raise tens of millions of dollars per year from hard-working Americans. MADD has spent almost two out of every three dollars raised on fund-raising, forcing the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) to downgrade its evaluation of the organization to a "D." MADD has spent twice as much on fundraising as the AIP finds acceptable. 79 It would appear that raising money has become an end in itself at the MADD bureaucracy, with numerous employees, high salaries, expensive fringe benefits, and huge retirement funds. 80
Mothers Against Drunk Driving spends most of its time in "self-perpetuating fund-raising efforts."
An official of the American Institute of Philanthropy said, "we'd like to see MADD spend a lot more money on things other than asking for more money." 81 Not surprisingly, the head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving refused to talk with a television station about MADD's fundraising practices. 82 Apparently he refuses to be accountable to the same public from which MADD aggressively solicits money.
» MADD’s operation in Canada has long assured donors that it spends their contributed money well. Fundraising pitches say "83.6 per cent of your donation is spent directly on MADD Canada programs" to reduce drunken driving, help victims of alcohol-related crashes, and engage in political lobbying. However, an investigative report by the Toronto-Star reveals a very different and troubling story. 83
The newspaper examined official reports that MADD Canada must submit to the Canada Revenue Agency's Charities Directorate, which regulates charities. It turns out that most of MADD’s money actually goes to fundraising and administration, leaving only 19 per cent of donations for its programs and services.
So instead of MADD’s claim that 83.6% of donations go to fund its programs, only 19% goes to that purpose. The enormous discrepancy is because MADD counts payments to professional fundraisers as charitable work, claiming they educate potential donors as they make their pitch.
However, the AIP and similar groups have long insisted that such a practice is deceptive and unacceptable. An official of the Canada Revenue Agency's Charities Directorate says the practice is prohibited. 84
In spite of this, MADD Canada’s head, Andrew Murie, insists that its practice of
counting payments to professional fundraisers as charitable work is one of “the acceptable principles of allocation of expenses in Canada" and that the regulator gave him permission to do so. The Charities Directorate specifically disputes his contention and says the practice is definitely not allowed. 85
In 2003, MADD was cautioned by the Charities Directorate following an audit for confusing fundraising and charitable works. It wrote to MADD that the corporation "made incorrect allocations of expenditures between those incurred of a fundraising nature from those funds spent on charitable activities." 86
Murie said that after the audit, MADD’s accounting practice was approved by the regulator. However, the Charities Directorate says this accounting method is not approved and emphasizes that charities must carefully distinguish their good works from their fundraising campaigns. 87
People from MADD branches across the country demanded in a conference call that Murie order an independent audit by an outside organization, but he refused and only agreed to an internal or self-review of its finances.
MADD has "taken a national tragedy and turned it into a fundraising machine."
"There should be an independent accounting firm reviewing these allegations," Lynne Magee, founder of MADD’s Huron County chapter. She said the group found the MADD leader to be uncooperative. "We were met with an arrogant response, that MADD has its own accounting firm and lawyers to handle this," Magee reported.
Veteran volunteers are opposed to what they consider deceitful fundraising practices and are also displeased that Murie refuses reveal MADD finances, including salaries and management costs. 88
MADD Canada’s founder says he is being punished for questioning the organization’s fundraising techniques and feels betrayed. John Bates, who earned Canada’s highest civilian award for his work starting and promoting MADD’s mission, was stripped of his membership in the corporation’s finance and policy committees shortly after being quoted in a newspaper story exposing highly questionable fundraising practices.
"This seems to be in response to asking too many questions," Bates said. "But I don't believe in spending donor money the way MADD head office does and I feel I had a responsibility to speak out."
Long-time MADD volunteer Nancy Codlin reacted with dismay when she learned what had happened to the Mr. Bates. "It's a sad day when the founder of MADD cannot ask questions. 89
Mr. Bates complains that “MADD has become a money machine working on fear and scare tactics" and that “MADD head office has taken a national tragedy and turned it into a fundraising machine."
MADD has never liked any questions by anyone to be raised about its finances. After the Las Vegas chapter asked financial questions it was closed. After a MADD state treasurer asked questions, he found his position eliminated and he reported that he was “threatened.”
» MADD has partnered with a gambling corporation to produce a series of gambling events as part of its “Charity Poker Gone MADD Tournament Series.” 90
This isn’t the first time that MADD has promoted gambling. As early as the mid-1980s, MADD pushed gambling events to follow high school proms. The enabling legislation sponsored by MADD established the precedent needed by the Pequot tribe to create the world’s most profitable casino. 91
MADD adamantly opposes letting parents or priests serve alcohol to adults under the age of 21 for any reason whatsoever, yet promotes gambling among young adults. However, 18 to 21 year old adults are about three times more likely to have problems with gambling, according to the leading expert on compulsive gambling, Dr. Rachel Volberg. More specifically, Dr. James Westphal reports that “although the 18 to 20 year-old age group only comprises 8.2% of the total adult population, that age group makes up 22.5% of total adults with gambling disorders." 92
Perhaps MADD should re-think its promotion of gambling, even though it generates income for the organization’s headquarters.
» The Center for Consumer Freedom says that Mothers Against Drunk Driving
...will sell out its principles to keep its coffers full. One noteworthy case was the 2000 battle over two California ballot initiatives (Propositions 30 and 31) that sought to permit an automobile accident victim to sue the at-fault driver's insurance company if legal claims weren't paid promptly. Considering that victims of drunk drivers stood to gain an important legal tool, most Californians expected MADD to lead the charge in favor of these new measures. However, MADD aligned itself with a group of out-of-state insurance companies, which collectively ran a $1 million-per-week advertising campaign against the propositions. MADD defended its position at the time by arguing that drunk drivers themselves, if convicted only of lesser charges, could sue insurance companies under the proposed law. Even after California's Attorney General disagreed, ruling that Propositions 30 and 31 could never give drunk drivers new rights, MADD never budged from its contradictory position. The organizations motive? Greed, plain and simple. MADD's 1999-2000 annual report acknowledges Allstate Insurance Company for a gift in the "$250,000 and above" category. Nationwide Mutual Insurance gave over $100,000 for its share of the political cover. 93MADD also has "cozy" relationships with its other major donors, including DaimlerChrysler, General Motors and Nissan. Actually, they're more investors than donors. GM is a good example.
"GM and MADD have formed a mutually profitable relationship: in return for GM's financial support, MADD stays conveniently silent on traffic safety issues outside of 'impaired driving.' GM, meanwhile, is vociferous in its opposition to any drinking before driving, buying itself immunity from MADD's potential criticism for encouraging speeding." 94
Speeding is a factor in about 31 percent of all fatal crashes involving almost 14,000 fatalities each year and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that speed-related crashes cost over $40 billion each year in the U.S. General Motors very aggressively promotes speeding as a pleasurable activity in order to sell its cars. 95
What does MADD say about speeding? Nothing. As the Executive Director of Ohio MADD said, "Speeding isn't our thing." 96
General Motors produces three of what Consumer Reports calls the "Four Deadliest Cars of All Time." However, by giving millions of dollars to MADD, the auto giant appears to have bought silence on the subject of improving vehicular safety features. 97
Coincidence? You decide.
» The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have long demonstrated that many vehicle models have very poor safety records. 99 Improving such models might save thousands of deaths and injuries annually. And laws requiring auto manufacturers to meet higher safety standards on all vehicles might save thousands more from death and injury.
So why doesn’t Mothers Against Drunk Driving push for either voluntary or mandatory safety improvements? After all, it’s such a logical way to help reduce the problem of traffic accidents.
General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation are three of the four “Platinum Corporate Sponsors” of MADD. That’s the honor roll of top financial contributors to the activist group. Does MADD let its desire to continue receiving multi-million dollar contributions influence its position on safety issues? 100
» When a MADD leader was asked about how traffic fatality statistics involving cell phone use compared to those involving drunk drivers, he tellingly replied "I have absolutely no idea, nor do I care." On CNN's Crossfire, the President-elect of MADD refused to discuss cell phones and the traffic fatalities they cause. She said "We're not here to talk about cell phones. We're here to talk about alcohol." Following more questions about how cell phones impair driving, the MADD leader snapped "I'm not going to talk about cell phones." Similarly, a MADD lobbyist was quoted on the program as saying "I don't care about deaths from cell phones." 101
Perhaps MADD's lack of concern for deaths caused by cell phone results from the fact that the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) gave free wireless phones to MADD chapters throughout the country along with free airtime. As the President of MADD exclaimed, "This is a tremendous shot in the arm for our organization." 102
Just another coincidence? Perhaps.
» Another top donor to MADD is Takata, a manufacturer of seatbelts. MADD uncharacteristically but very aggressively promotes the use of seatbelts.
This might only be yet another in a long string of coincidences. Draw your own conclusion.
» When deciding if these are only coincidences, consider MADD's pitches to potential "donors:"
"What MADD Can Do For You. Aligning with MADD gives your company added credibility and increased power by:
- Increasing store traffic and sales volume
- Connecting with customers on emotional and logical levels to provide incremental value to the consumer and sales lift to your company
- Increasing partner distribution channels
- Increasing shelf space and point-of-sale display space with key retailers
- Winning national marketing and media awards
- Increasing consumer and media awareness during key time periods
- Giving national promotions "local legs" through MADD's network of chapters
- Mentioning your company during interviews in national media
- Attracting national and regional media attention during sponsor-driven media events
- Delivering targeted media campaigns with other MADD partners
Call MADD's marketing department at 469-420-4518 to discuss how MADD can help your company meet its marketing and public relations goals." 103
The organization brags that "during 2000, MADD delivered more than 102 million media impressions and exposure to over 500 legislators to DaimlerChrysler.” 104 As a former chapter President observed, MADD is big business.
» MADD’s Massachusetts chapter took a neutral position in the heated debate over allowing more supermarkets to sell wine. Several supermarket chains have been substantial contributors of money to the chapter.
The communications director for the MADD chapter denies that money has anything to do with its neutrality. However, MADD virtually always opposes any law that increases the availability of alcohol to the population. For example, MADD Minnesota has strongly opposed supermarkets’ efforts to sell wine for several years. 105
» Mothers Against Drunk Driving received $2,657,293 in a single year from its Victim Impact Panel business. MADD reported on its non-profit tax form that "This revenue is earned from DWI offenders who must pay a donation to MADD" to attend a meeting in which they learn the impact that impaired driving accidents have on those who suffer as a result.
MADD has a clear economic incentive to increase the number of DWI/DUI convictions because that increases its income from the required "donations." MADD determines exactly how much must be donated to itself by convicted drivers in order to sit through the court-mandated meetings.
Although they are a very profitable business for MADD, there appears to be little evidence that they are effective at all in reducing the incidence of either impaired or intoxicated driving. 106
» It appears that dozens of members of Congress each and every year escape DWI arrests by invoking their congressional privilege of immunity (Article one, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution). The privilege was originally provided over 200 years ago to protect members of Congress from politically-motivated arrests made in an effort to prevent then from voting or otherwise performing their official duties.
The privilege of immunity serves no useful purpose today and is an affront to law-abiding citizens. There are many pressures that could be applied to discourage its outrageous misuse. For example, the use of the privilege by a senator or representative from a state could be used to lower that states score used by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in calculating the state's MADD "grade."
Unfortunately, MADD insists on remaining completely silent on the issue. Apparently, the organization, which receives massive taxpayer funding from Congress, doesn't want to ruffle feathers and jeopardize a rich source of income.
» A teen party with “free beer” for hundreds of underage high school students was sponsored by a parent. And not just one party but at least three such teen parties with alcohol have been sponsored by the same parent, according to students. This is exactly the sort of thing that outrages Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Police have charged the parent with illegally allowing minors to drink alcohol. But in this case MADD has “withheld judgment” and is not criticizing the parent.
The parent is Gisela Zetsche, wife of the president and CEO of the Chrysler Group. Chrysler Group’s DaimlerChrysler is a major “Platinum Sponsor” investor in MADD. So MADD apparently looks the other way rather than offend the hand that feeds it. Cynics might say that money is money and that MADD has its priorities. 107
» Shortly after the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, MADD actually produced an advertisement exploiting the event in an effort to promote its legislative agenda. And following the mass murder at Columbine High School in Colorado, MADD issued a press release trivializing the murders as "insignificant" compared to those killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents! After 9/11, the President of MADD expressed frustration that the events of that day had shifted some of the limelight away from the organization. Attempting to capitalize on the tragedies of 9/11, she insisted that "if anybody knows terror, I think the victims of drunk driving certainly do." 108
It is difficult to imagine that such insensitive words and actions come from an organization that claims to be an advocate for victims. Apparently, the only victims who count are those of drunk driving; other tragedies and their victims are trivialized. MADD has the right to believe as it wishes, but it should learn to be less blatantly self-promoting at the expense of others.
* MADD's National President has implied that all alcohol-related crashes are actually drunk driving crashes, although only a minority really are.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving appears to make no distinction between "alcohol-related" and "drunken" accidents. But alcohol-related only means that the driver, a passenger, pedestrian, or anyone else associated with the accident had consumed at least a sip of alcohol or was believed to have done so.
On the other hand, a drunk driving crash occurs when an involved driver has an estimated blood alcohol content (BAC) reading high enough that the person is considered legally intoxicated. There's an enormous difference between "believed to have had a sip" and "drunken."
This is a very important distinction and confusing people by equating the two is not in the public interest, although it may be in the interest of MADD's legislative and fund-raising efforts. 109
MADD sometimes expresses hostility toward those who defend the rights of the accused, who are assumed by it to be guilty. Describing one defense attorney, a MADD leader said "He's infamous. Everybody in MADD knows about him. We don't welcome him in the community" because he's "spreading out his poisonous influence" in protecting basic constitutional rights. 120
One MADD leader even argues that “there is merit in revoking licenses of diagnosed alcoholics, even if they do not have DUI convictions.” 121 Members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) must publicly diagnose themselves as alcoholic, and probably most have additionally been diagnosed as alcoholic by clinicians. All AA members apparently fall under MADD’s category of diagnosed alcoholics, even though their goal is to abstain completely from alcohol for the rest of their lives.
"MADD has become a ruthless lobby more concerned with prohibitionist legislation and punishment of drinkers than with improving road safety."
Why should teetotaling alcoholics, AA members or otherwise, have their driver’s licenses revoked? Is this just vengeful punishment because alcoholics who drive while intoxicated have caused tragedy in the lives of so many MADD members?
MADD’s vengeance and hostility is directed not only toward drunken drivers and those suspected of driving while intoxicated, but also to anyone who disagrees with the organization.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a long tradition of hostility toward the rights of the accused and apparently assumes them to be guilty unless they can prove their innocence. MADD admits that it has never in its long history, even once so much as verbally defended the rights or presumption of innocence of an accused defendant, regardless of th e circumstances. 122
» MADD Canada is pressuring cities to drop ads on busses announcing the availability of legal counsel for those suspected of driving while impaired by alcohol. The ad that outrages MADD simply states: “Impaired Driving Lawyers” along with a telephone number and website address.
MADD officials insist that announcing the availability of legal counsel sends “the message that it’s OK to drink and drive, because you can get away with it.”
Lawyers point out that every Canadian has a right to be protected by legal counsel. They stress that everyone needs to understand this fact because impaired driving is such a serious crime with serious consequences. It’s not obvious how the ad promotes impaired driving, as MADD contends. To the contrary, the ad may serve to remind people that impaired driving has very serious consequences that typically require the services (and expenses) of a lawyer. Keeping people in the dark may make it easier to get a few more convictions by violating people’s constitutional rights. However, society must ask if this is a fair trade -- MADD apparently thinks it is. 123
» The national President of MADD Canada is "calling for police to have more power to nab impaired drivers." The President complains that the burden of proof is on the police and prosecution to demonstrate that the accused is guilty. MADD fails to understand that in North American systems of justice, accused individuals are innocent until proven guilty by the government.
"Criticizing MADD is like criticizing the pope. They do not lightly tolerate disagreement."
The burden of proof is correctly on the police and government. MADD leaders should take refresher courses in civics at their local middle schools. It's in totalitarian societies that the accused are assumed to be guilty and must prove their innocence. 124
» Chante Mallard, charged with murder after striking a pedestrian and failing to seek medical help for him, claimed the charge should not be murder because she had been drinking and drugging before the accident and was in a "haze."
A MADD official was outraged at the defense and said "when Mallard entered her defense, the judge in the case should have taken it as a guilty plea to murder and immediately proceeded to the punishing phase of the trial."
Intoxication should never be accepted as a defense for any action, but to deny a citizen the right to a trial because of that defense is, itself, indefensible, and reflects MADD's hostility to individual rights. 125
» A court ruling, known as the "Stewart case" requires reasonable evidence that a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) was at an illegal level at the time the person was driving for the person to be found guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Civil libertarians and civil rights supporters have praised the Stewart case for not permitting questionable test estimates to be used to convict individuals who may be completely innocent. However, that ruling has been strongly criticized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 126
» A new law in South Carolina requires law enforcement officers to read suspects of impaired driving their Miranda rights before administering field sobriety tests. The law is intended to prevent cases from being thrown out of court because officers didn't make suspects aware of their Constitutional rights.
MADD has strongly opposed this effort to safeguard rights provided by the Constitution.. 127
» The Indiana State Court of Appeals has declared as unconstitutional mandatory blood tests without cause after traffic accidents.
It's important that Sheriff John Marvel says the ruling won't have any substantial effect on drunk driving law enforcement. Officers can still require a blood test of drivers if probable cause exists. Probable cause is anything that suggests a person may have consumed any alcohol, such as slurred speech or the odor of alcohol.
Nevertheless, MADD is angry. A spokesperson appears upset that protecting Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution might make it "hard to prosecute people who've caused pain in the lives of others." This assertion is consistent with a large study of MADD members that found the organization to focus on "the demand for justice and vengeance" against those they believe have caused them loss and pain. 128
» The local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has engaged in "reckless and irresponsible public behavior," according to the District Attorney General of Anderson County, Tennessee, Jim Ramsey. Among other things, the MADD chapter has interfered in ongoing criminal investigations, including irresponsible vigilantism, according to the Attorney General.
The MADD chapter accused a local retailer of selling beer to a teenager who later had an auto accident that killed two people. However, a judicial hearing found that the beer hadn't come from the business accused by MADD of this illegal behavior. There is no report of an apology.
The MADD chapter defends its unfounded attacks and other questionable activities as being "within the policies and guidelines of MADD." 129
Within a period of two decades, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has unfortunately degenerated from a public service organization devoted to reducing traffic fatalities into an anti-alcohol bureaucracy largely focused on raising ever more money for itself. 144
"MADD selectively cites a study published in 2002 by Robert Mann of the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mann, in turn, had extracted those numbers from two separate studies whose data was culled from Sweden and Australia. The conclusions in Mann’s study seem to ignore the Swedish authors’ numerous caveats and cautions, as well as the limitations inherent t o the Australian study. For starters, the Aussie study examined the effectiveness of random breath testing (spot checks), not lowered BAC levels, on fatal traffic collisions. Also, that research was initiated in 1976, at a time when liquid lunches were far more common. What’s more, the Australian statistics contained wide variations….”But from this obviously highly questionable MADD selected only the number which was consistent with its argument. The Canada Safety Council, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation all take issue with MADD. The Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving reports that most drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents have a very high BAC. (Chamberlain, Erika and Solomon, Robert. The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the hard-core drinking driver. Unpublished paper without references, August 21, 2001; MacDonald, Nancy. Science? Or MADD as a hatter? Why a new Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaign to drop the legal alcohol limit is wrong -- and unfair to women. MacLean’s, December 5, 2005; MADD Canada. Criminal Code .005% BAC law will decrease impaired driving in Canada. MADD Canada press release, December 9, 2005.
I BEGGED MADD to help with the federal (anti-drugged driving) legislation a few years back and they wouldn't utter one word of support. They truly only care about alcohol. In fact, a national board member last week point blank told me that my interests conflict with theirs because there isn't enough funding/attention for both of us!!! So sad. Impaired driving is impaired driving, whatever the cause and dead bodies result from it.(Emphasis in original) (email, June 12, 2004).
"MADD has a track record of helping our corporate partners meet their goals:Of course, unspoken is what MADD can deliver by remaining silent on issues that its investors want ignored and supporting what they want to promote. For example, silence in the face of blatant promotion of speed to sell cars, on the one hand , and active support of the use of cell phones while driving, on the other. It would appear that corporate "donations" are really corporate investments on which MADD can deliver.
- • For a $.15 per case donation, MADD chapters obtained premiere product placement for Coca-Cola products in more than 400 Wal-Mart stores, increasing Coke's case sales volume by 490 percent over same store sales.
- • Working in partnership with General Mills, MADD helped the Bugles brand enjoy the highest sales promotion in the company's history, with a six-fold increase in weekend sales.
- • DaimlerChrysler presented MADD the opportunity to help achieve two key objectives: increase public knowledge of their safety initiatives and interact with members of Congress. During the MADD National Youth Summit to Prevent Underage Drinking 2000, MADD delivered more than 102 million media impressions and exposure to over 500 legislators to DaimlerChrysler.
- • In a unique retail merchandising partnership, a MADD connection increased Stonehenge Limited neckwear sales by more than 270 percent over its previous product launch.
- • Together, MADD and Allstate Insurance distributed more than 5 million red ribbons, 86 percent of their managers reported the MADD relationship was "extremely valuable" to their corporation after their involvement in MADD's holiday campaign. 58 percent of Allstate field managers agreed that the program increased consumer recognition of Allstate."
"MADD has morphed from an anti-drunk-driving organization into an anti-alcohol organization."
Although Prohibition ended 70 years ago, "a new agenda of temperance is alive and well today at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)."
"At the forefront of the neo-prohibitionist movement is MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving "engages in a form of neoprohibitionism."
"We believe their (MADD's) true agenda is prohibition."
A "prohibitionist movement (is) propagated by MADD."
MADD "has turned into the new 'Women's Christian Temperance Union.'"
MADD is an "anti-alcohol group."
MADD's campaign is "anti-alcohol."
MADD is an "anti-alcohol advocate."
MADD is led by "neoprohibitionists."
"MADD has a prohibitionist agenda."
MADD has a "neo-prohibitionist agenda."
MADD has "a neo-prohibitionist agenda."
MADD is guilty of "anti-alcohol hysteria."
MADD has "become anti-alcohol, pure and simple."
MADD has morphed from an anti-drunk-driving organization into an anti-alcohol organization."
MADD has an "anti-alcohol campaign."
MADD is "anti-alcohol."
MADD is "led and driven by anti-alcohol fanatics."
"the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League spearheaded the constitutional prohibition effort. Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) assume that mantle today."
MADD is an outgrowth of "the ideology of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union."
MADD is 'the most effective temperance organization" in the U.S. since Prohibition's repeal.
"The Women's Christian Temperance Union has merely been replaced by MADD."
MADD consists of "closet neo-prohibitionists."
MADD supports "anti-alcohol legislation."
MADD is an "anti-alcohol group."
"One of the most powerful anti-alcohol lobbies is MADD."
Its "inflated drunk driving statistics confirm MADD's relevance and help it raise funds."
MADD's report is "chock full of inaccuracies and errors," but MADD officials have refused to comment on them.
"MADD has become big bucks, and that's it." "It's a big corporation."
"MADD is going corporate” and "all they care about is the money.”
"It’s not like a non- profit anymore.” So much money goes into salaries and fringe benefits instead of reducing drunk driving.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is guilty of "dubious budget and fundraising tactics." (MADD deceptively lists fundraising mailings as educational activities rather than fundraising activities.)
"One of the worst performance records (on spending inordinately to raise money, then spending below-average amounts on their stated mission) goes to Mothers Against Drunk Driving."
"MADD uses viral e-mail to build (its e-mail) list."
"MADD continues to deceive."
MADD Canada’s deceptive accounting practices are “definitely not allowed.”
"MADD is just totally spiteful."
"MADD is spiteful, vindictive, judgmental, holier than thou, self-righteous and obnoxious."
"MADD is a hate group, without question."
"Nobody wants to be in MADD's bad graces."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving "threatened me."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving "displayed its contempt for civil liberties, as well as the judicial system, by calling for (a) judge to resign because she criticized a MADD-backed program she felt violated the constitutional rights of young adults."
MADD has become "overzealous."
"One must wonder has MADD gone mad?"
"MADD is out of control."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is guilty of "demagoguery."
Washington Times. 141
MADD “advocates ineffective authoritarian policies.”
"MADD has allowed its emotions to preempt its common sense, hoping, therefore, to drive up support for its cause."
This is the personal web site of Dr. David J. Hanson, who has received no financial support or other consideration from any agency, company, organization, group or person to post or maintain it.