Mothers Against Drunk Driving

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 1980

In 1980, the mother of a 13-year-old California girl who was killed by a repeat drunk driver founded a nonprofit to fight back. Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped set the drinking age at 21 in all states, promoted tougher sanctions and the deployment of new technology against impaired driving, and rated states on DUI enforcement. In the first five years of the group’s existence, annual traffic deaths related to alcohol were reduced by 20 percent—representing 6,000 lives saved. By 2015, alcohol-related deaths had been roughly cut in half, a total saving of about 300,000 lives.

Even still, alcohol-related crashes remain the most frequently committed violent crime in the U.S. On average, one American is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes. Economic losses exceed $114 billion per year.

In the 1990s MADD began to receive significant amounts of money from the federal government. The organization grew into a large bureaucracy, spending $20 million on annual staff salaries by 2009.

Mentioned on this page