Walk Like MADD

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving will hold a national �Walk Like MADD� event on Saturday, April 26th to raise funds for the anti-drunk driving group. The president of the local MADD organization and the president of UMADD, an Arizona State University anti-drunk driving organization, will talk about the event and efforts to combat drunk driving.

>>>Ted Simons:
In 2006, there were 585 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Arizona. That number was up from 508 in 2005. State lawmakers responded, passing one of the toughest anti-drunk driving measures in the country. It requires interlock devices to start a vehicle even for first-time offenders. It's a tough bill, but work against drunk driving is never done for the Arizona chapter of mothers against drunk drivers. This Saturday, they will hold their third annual 5-k walk to raise funds for the local MADD chapter at the Phoenix Zoo starting at 8:00 a.m. I'll talk to the head of the Arizona MADD chapter and the president of UMADD at Arizona State University. But first here are some excerpts from last year's event.

>>Sharon Sikora:
When we started mothers against drunk driving here in Arizona, in 1982, we had no idea that the numbers would just keep growing and growing, and there were so many people that were affected because, of course, we wanted the numbers to go down, down, down, and we were hoping we could close the doors and not be in business, but unfortunately, isn't the case. Fortunately Mothers Against Drunk Driving are here for the victims, families, survivors, friends, everybody. They have made a difference in the state and country. I won't, like I said, go into a whole long speech. Most of you have had personal experiences or know somebody. It is a tragedy, unfortunately. It can touch anybody at any time. I am a multiple victim of a drunk driving crash, myself and my daughter in separate crashes. It can happen again.

>>Tim Dorn:
You've heard from everybody this morning that DUI. Offenders are far reaching, they impact the victims, families, and I can tell you personally that they also impact the family members of the offenders themselves. On April 30th of last year, Gilbert police officer rod targos, a member of our DUI -- a member of our enforcement squad was the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty. His motorcycle was struck by a suspected impaired driver who later left the scene. A short time later, Officer Kevin Weeks of the Tempe police department also a member of the DUI Enforcement Unit was involved in a traffic collision while on duty and lost his life in the line of duty.

>>Ted Simons:
Here now is Erica Espino executive director of the MADD Arizona organization, and also joining me is Carly Campo president of University Mothers Against Drunk Driving . Thank you both for joining us on "Horizon." Erica, let's talk about this event.

>>Erika Espino:
The event is really designed to educate people about the issues of drinking and driving, we have far too many injuries and fatalities here in Arizona because people make the decision to drink and then drive. We want people to know this is not acceptable anymore and we are here to support the victims and get the message out that it is not acceptable.

>>Ted Simons:
How has that message so far -- we've heard about MADD for years now, and it is very vocal and it is out there. Most of us seem to be aware of it. Who is not aware that driving and drinking is not a good idea?

>>Erika Espino:
Well, I think for the most part, almost everybody is aware. I don't know who couldn't possibly be aware that drinking and driving don't mix, but the unfortunate thing is that people still continue to do it and the fact of the matter is that they do it because they can. They can still get in a vehicle and drive even after they have been drinking, and that is why we are so concerned about issues like ignition interlock, like the law that we passed last year that will make a difference in lowering these injuries and fatalities.

>>Ted Simons:
Carly, As far as the university students are concerned, obviously a big concern there and a big factor on a lot of campuses. How is this message maybe tailored toward the university student?

>>Carly Campo:
We are adding the dynamic of the drinking law and how MADD supports that. It is a difficult message, especially at ASU, a stigma of a party school, so it is difficult to get the message out there. And I think that students -- I mean, they've heard it, from their parents, heard it into high school, but students think they're invincible.

>>Ted Simons:
Indeed. As far as the number of drunk driving fatalities, the numbers are down, correct?

>>Erika Espino:
Right now the numbers are down. They're the lowest they have been since 1998. But that is due to a combination of things. One is legislation. Also wonderful support from law enforcement, but it is just a number of factors, but we need to see those numbers go down even further, because approximately 40% of the fatalities on our highways are alcohol-related. And that is just too many.

>>Ted Simons:
Is there legislation that you have in mind? Something you would like to see lawmakers, governor, law enforcement do? What would be the next step?

>>Erika Espino:
We need continued support to ensure our ignition interlock remain strong. We don't want to see those lowered. Right now, A first time offender would receive ignition interlock for a mandatory of one year. We want to keep that law the way it is, keep it strong to again send a message out, but primarily keep the streets safe. Having ignition interlock in a vehicle makes sure that an impaired driver cannot start the vehicle. Therefore, keeping that drunk driver off the street.

>>Ted Simons:
As far as university students are concerned, for the most part, the people that you talk to and deal with, are they aware of stricter laws? Are they aware of tougher law enforcement?

>>Carly Campo:
It depends on who you talk to, if they follow the news. I would say though not really. We had a campaign last semester when the ignition interlock law was coming into effect where we brought an ignition air lock demo car on campus so that we could get the message out to students, and it was -- it was interesting. Because it was an old-style car and students got to look and see how it worked. So, we're trying to get the message out. I don't think that everyone is fully aware yet. I know some students think the laws are too stiff, which I would not agree with.

>>Ted Simons:
Do you hear from folks who were at the university 10, 15, 20 years ago and talked to you about this issue, saying things are much better than they used to be or things are much worse than they used to be as far as college kids and drinking?

>>Ted Simons:
The interesting thing I have noticed, a lot of alumni, they actually almost encourage it. They will come and they will have events, you know, with fraternities or whatever, and they seem to, you know, if they have kids in that fraternity and they -- they seem to actually be supplying alcohol. Just from what I have heard and noticed from my experiences.

>>Ted Simons:
Interesting. As far as the culture of drinking, folks drinking, socially drinking with meals and those abusing driving, etc., how, again, do you get that message across to knock it off?

>>Erika Espino:
I think it is important that we start young. It needs to start in the home. And what Carly is saying about alumni are possibly encouraging it is very concerning to us, because MADD has a zero tolerance policy about underage drinking. A lot of parents feel it is okay to let their child drink in the home. The fact of the matter is it is not okay. The legal drinking age is 21. What those parents are doing is, first of all, against the law, and, second of all, it is also hampering their child's brain development as well, because studies have proven that the brain is still developing until the early 20s. We commend Carly and the UMADD group for what they are doing. We can't be everywhere at once.

>>Ted Simons:
For more information, we have the phone number up there, the web site up there as well. That is where you go. And good luck this week. Thank you for joining us.

>>Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Well, coming up on "Horizon," immigration remains a hot topic. And some lawmakers are again trying to define marriage between a man and a woman. That is Friday on the Journalists' Roundtable. Coming up next on Horizonte, Mayor Phil Gordon talks about his battle with Sheriff Arpaio. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.

Ericka Espino:Director, Arizona MADD;Carly Campo: President, UMADD at Arizona State University;

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