Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking – MADD anniversary reminds us to drive safely

Mayor Gary Graham

Mayor Gary Graham

This week, we remember a very tragic, yet important day in American History. On May 3, 1980, a thirteen-year-old girl, Cari Lightner, of Fair Oaks, California was walking along a quiet road on her way to a church carnival when she was struck by a vehicle that swerved off of the road, killing her. Cari’s heartbreaking death compelled her mother, Candy Lightner, to found the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which would grow into one of the country’s most influential non-profit organizations.

President Ronald Reagan soon asked Candy Lightner to serve on the National Commission on Drunk Driving, which recommended raising the minimum drinking age to 21 and revoking the licenses of those arrested for drunk driving. In July 1984, Lightner stood next to President Reagan as he signed a law reducing federal grants to any state that failed to raise its drinking age to 21; by the following year, all 50 states had tightened their drunk-driving laws.

The statistics are as familiar as they are depressing. According to MADD, every day in America another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. But the statistics don’t do justice to the pain and loss suffered by drunk driving victims and their families – the parents who have lost children, husbands and wives who have lost their spouses, kids who have lost their parents.

So what are some things you can do to prevent drinking and driving? MADD suggests:

When Drinking Alcohol:

  • Be Responsible
  • Choose a designated driver. Decide who’s going to be doing the driving before you go out, and make sure that person doesn’t drink any alcoholic beverages.
  • Call a taxi. Sometimes even the designated driver slips. If nobody in your group is sober, take alternate transportation.
  • Hide keys. Don’t be afraid to take someone’s car keys. If the person gets angry, it’s probably proof you’re doing the right thing.
  • When throwing a party:
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Water, juice, soda – give your guests plenty of alternatives. And never pressure guests to drink alcohol.
  • Serve plenty of food. A full stomach can slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Serve a great meal or have plenty of appetizers on hand.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends. Give your guests an extra hour or two without alcohol before they head out the door.
  • Arrange alternate transportation. Pay attention to your guests’ alcohol intake and behavior. If someone has had a lot to drink or seems even the slightest bit drunk, call a cab or set up a ride with a sober driver.
  • Never serve minors.

The O’Fallon Police Department wants to share a few signs associated with drunk driving:

  • Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
  • Almost striking an object or vehicle
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Driving at a very slow speed
  • Stopping without cause
  • Braking erratically
  • Responding slowly to traffic signals
  • Making wide turns
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Driving after dark with headlights off

Keeping these things in mind can help you avoid a dangerous situation. If you spot what you think is an impaired driver, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle yourself. Remember the slogan, “See something, Say Something”. Community involvement and assistance is important and extremely helpful to the O’Fallon Police Department.

The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.