What Mothers Have Meant to the Fight Against Drunk Driving

This Sunday is the day we remind ourselves what our mothers have done for us. But mothers have done a lot for the country as well.

mothers-against-drunk-drivingBack in the 1970s and drunk driving was seen as a risky but inevitable practice, a frowned-upon vice that would always be with us. Often it was the subject of jokes. As such, the public tolerated it, and even police tended to look the other way, letting off drunk drivers with warnings to go home and “sleep it off.” The rate of alcohol-related fatalities was staggering back then.

What changed things was the effort of first one mother, and then thousands.

In May of 1980 Candy Lightner’s daughter Cari was killed by a hit-and-run driver who, as it turned out, was drunk. Lightner began a coordinated effort to get her state to take drunk driving seriously. Another mother joined her from across the country, and eventually other states came on board. Mothers Against Drunk Driving grew, and by 1982 the Federal Government was using its influence to press states to enact stronger laws against drinking and driving. Other measures, such as educational campaigns and ignition interlocks, were introduced to prevent future occurrences of drunk driving.

The grassroots campaign of mothers pressed on, year after year. Rather than dwell on their grief, those mothers chose to save countless sons and daughters by publicizing the dangers of drunk driving, and making the public understand that it is a preventable crime.

Today, if drunk driving is out of fashion, and no longer a subject of amusement, it is because mothers have been taking a stand against it for 35 years.

And to this day they have not let down their guard. Whenever an important drunk driving bill comes up in a state legislature, chances are a mother is testifying in its favor.

This Mother’s Day, give a thought to those who have worked so hard for no other reward than to make our roads safer for their daughters and sons, and everyone else’s as well.