MADD campaign highlights new technology

DALLAS: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has kicked off a national campaign in an attempt to raise public awareness of technology that could help dramatically reduce drunk driving fatalities.

DALLAS: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has kicked off a national campaign in an attempt to raise public awareness of technology that could help dramatically reduce drunk driving fatalities.

The technological device, called interlock, forces the driver to blow into an instrument that measures alcohol levels before allowing ignition. The goal of the campaign is to force states to use the devices more broadly while looking into more advanced technology that could be placed in vehicles in the next decade.

The Dallas-based nonprofit is working with GMMB, a political consulting and advocacy advertising firm, on the campaign. MADD hopes to raise $1 million over the next year to help support initiatives, said Misty Moyse, director of media relations for the nonprofit.

GMMB and MADD are hoping to bring attention to the available technology through a sustained media outreach program, which began with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on November 20.

Local MADD chapters will also be involved in lobbying state governments to make the devices mandatory in offenders' vehicles. While the interlock devices are currently used in 45 states, only New Mexico uses it for first-time offenders. There are currently 100,000 interlock devices in use in this country, and MADD wants to push that number to at least 500,000, said Madelene Milano, a partner at GMMB.

An additional part of the new campaign is the formation of the Blue Ribbon panel, which will consist of safety experts looking at the feasibility of additional technology that won't be intrusive to responsible drivers.

"It will be very much a grassroots effort. I think this really will rejuvenate the troops," Milano said. "It won't be a small task but it will be a good campaign to be running."

The campaign is modeled, in part, on the seatbelt and airbag safety campaign of the last 10 years, which GMMB also assisted. While there is currently no plans for paid advertising, the federal government will spend $7 million in December to discourage driving under the influence. Milano said there may be a paid ad component down the line, funds permitting.

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