Drunk Driving is a Montana Epidemic

I had always envisioned a mob of angry women marching with pickets whenever I heard the name “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” When I interviewed for a position with MADD last year, I was pleasantly surprised to find that MADD is so much more. MADD’s tactics have evolved over time, and the anger expressed by the early members fueled the grassroots movement to create safer drunk driving laws across the United States, increase public awareness about this crime, and save many, many lives. I have discovered that MADD has continued to create change since the early days of picketing, but the tactics are much more widespread and research-based today. Mothers Against Drunk Driving continues to be one of the most recognized and impactful organizations in the nation.

MADD is an organization comprised of victims, mothers, fathers, friends, law enforcement, health professionals, and community members who all share the same goal to eliminate drunk driving. I have also discovered that Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides support to victims and families impacted by drunk driving. MADD offers a 24-hour victim hotline (1-877-MADD-HELP) that supports victims suffering the physical, emotional and financial consequences of drunk driving. Workshops and information are also offered to help parents talk to their teens about drinking. Conversations between a parent and teen about alcohol can be difficult, but alcohol continues to be one of the contributing factor in the majority of teen deaths. MADD provides material and guidance to help parents effectively discuss drinking and driving with teens in a way that can be life saving.

When I realized that my perceptions of Mothers Against Drunk Driving were dated and incorrect, and I learned about the incredible programs MADD offers, and I met the passionate people that fuel this grassroots organization, I accepted the position as Program Coordinator for MADD Montana.

Since working for MADD, I have been overwhelmed with the reality of drunk driving in Montana. According to the most recent county crash data, over 40% of the crashes and fatalities in this state are related to alcohol according to the Montana highway patrol accident reports. Drunk driving is a Montana epidemic. The citizens of Montana are more likely to be hit by a drunk driver than the residents of most other states.   

As this epidemic continues to worsen, the need for community support and volunteers becomes urgent.  We need passionate Montanans who are concerned about the safety of our communities to join MADD Montana’s Advisory Board or volunteer in other ways. The Montana MADD Chapter will be hosting an advisory board member and volunteer recruitment drive on August 4th at 6:00pm in the Bozeman Public Library. Please join our local MADD chapter and get involved in the fight to eliminate drunk driving, reduce underage drinking, and support the victims of this violent crime.    

Kelsey Denison is the Program Coordinator for MADD Montana.