MADD launches program to curb holiday drunken driving ::

MADD launches program to curb holiday drunken driving

Posted: Today at 12:30 a.m.
Updated: Today at 5:34 a.m.

Raleigh, N.C. — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched their Tie One on for Safety holiday ribbon campaign Tuesday. The 21st annual crusade coincides with the Booze It & Loose It initiative, both aimed at reducing drunken driving.

Elizabeth Manis, who lost her 17-year-old daughter, Lilli, in a drunken driving crash on July 12, 2008, spoke at the kickoff ceremony, held at the State Farm Insurance Office, 9630 Falls of the Neuse Road, in Raleigh.

“Lilli was just one of over 400 people killed in North Carolina by drunken drivers in 2008,” Manis said. "This is an epidemic of criminal behavior that should not be tolerated, and it can be prevented."

Last year, more than 75,000 citations were issued for driving while impaired across the state.

As part of the campaign, MADD asks motorists to tie a red ribbon to their vehicle as a pledge to drive safe and sober over the holidays, one of the deadliest travel times of the year.

“It takes courage to stop and think, ‘I don't need to drive. There are other people out there that can be affected by my actions,’” Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. “It's just like shooting a pistol. Once it happens, we can't stop the bullet.”

Last year, 25 motorists were killed and 1,870 were injured on state highways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the Highway Patrol. That number is down, however, from previous years.

“We are seeing a trend over the last couple of years. We are decreasing in our collisions, as much as 10 percent so far this year,” said Col. Randy Glover, commander of the state Highway Patrol.

The decrease is due, in part, to campaigns that crackdown on speeding and drunken drivers. Law enforcement officers are using motorcycles, patrol cars, unmarked cars and helicopters to monitor the interstates and major-four lane highways during the long weekend.

Drunken and dangerous driving can be reported to the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on cell phones from anywhere in the state.

Booze It & Loose It and Tie One on for Safety both run through December.