Even though Highland County doesn’t have a local MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) office, that didn’t stop law enforcement and victim/witness advocates from bringing awareness through MADD’s annual Tie One On For Safety campaign.
Randy and Sue Young, who both work with MADD, were joined on Monday by members of the Highland County Victim/Witness Office, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, Hillsboro Police Chief Todd Whited, Jennifer Lowe with the Greenfield Police Department, Shane Nolley with the Leesburg Police Department, and troopers Brittany Kenney and John McCorkle with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to kick-off a campaign in Highland County.
Each department took with them red ribbons to tie to their own cruisers and to distribute that are part of the long-running MADD campaign started in 1986, Tie One On For Safety. The ribbon, to be affixed to a person’s vehicle, is a show of their commitment to not drive impaired.
It’s a campaign, Young said, that happens around the holidays because that is the time of year that sees a higher rate of fatalities.
Highland County does not have a MADD chapter, according to victim/witness office director Niki Glispie. But she said Monday that she is hoping that will change.
Young and his wife, Sue, lost their daughter Tonya in a drunk driving crash 25 years ago. Young, a program coordinator with MADD, said Monday that after their daughter’s death there was a MADD advocate with them through the trial. It was suggested to them that they share their daughter’s story, and they have been working with the organization ever since, he said.
MADD’s annual campaign to Tie One On For Safety is the largest public awareness project that the organization does, he said.
Young said they want people who have been affected by drunk and drugged driving to know that “MADD is here to help.”
Young said that along with the three offices in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, there are also smaller community action teams throughout the state.
In her experience, Glispie said advocates with MADD are able to offer a more connected support to those affected by impaired driving deaths because they have lived it.
“It’s always been … an amazing program,” Glispie said.
She said she remembered seeing the red ribbons on cars when she was younger and she “knew what that meant.” It is important for children to have that education, she said, and to understand the consequences of impaired driving.
According to statistics on MADD’s website, in 2013 more than 10,000 people died in drunk driving crashes, 200 of those victims were children 14 years old and younger; a person is injured in a drunk-driving crash every two minutes; use of alcohol by teens leads to 4,700 deaths per year; car crashes are the leading cause of death in teenagers, about 25 percent of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver; more than half of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
MADD’s theme, Young said, is “No More Victims.”
With increased efforts of law enforcement and advancing technologies, Young is hopeful that impaired driving incidents will continue to decrease.
“There have been too many families” through the years affected by impaired driving, he said. “To be honest with you, I want to be worked out of a job.”
For more information about the programs offered by MADD and how to get involved, go to madd.org.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.