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M.A.D.D. And Why I'm Mad They Aren't More Effective

Updated on November 12, 2011

Which Poisonings Are Worse?

Some of us are old enough to recall why tamper-proof seals began to be used on so many food and drug items in the stores.

Those seals and the change in protective packaging they symbolized came about due to public fears and public indignation. The cyanide poisonings which were the cause for that change were horrific and condemned. The actual loss of life, due in part to prompt government and industry warnings and actions, was tragic, and the cause for several months of public concern. The momentary financial loss to one manufacturer was sizable but absorbed.

As I recall, ten people died as a result of the incident.

In that same year some thousands of people died, killed by other killers on our nation's highways and roads. Local media covered those deaths, and occasionally the number and circumstances of some of the deaths were so unusual that even the national media covered them.

But, there was little public indignation, little conscious fear, and, in contrast to the prompt actions of government and industry in the poison killings, life continued, little changed.

The two types of news stories, and their media coverage, are sources for some real pondering, not for their newsworthiness, but for a certain hypocrisy they illustrate.

The poisonings were unquestionably a major tragedy which called for a prompt remedy. As with much of our American tendency to govern ourselves by reacting to crises and solving them, the news at the time was filled with detailed advice to consumers, and the ultimately effective, detailed planning by government and industry. All that attention came about due to a very few sick people whose actions had seemed to threaten us all.

The irony, and potential hypocrisy in that news story, came from the fact that we had approximately 10 million Americans suffering from an equally dangerous sickness that threatened all Americans at the time, and their actions did not generate the same intensive efforts as the sick actions of those few Americans involved in the other poisonings. Those 10 million Americans had an alcohol problem.

Is there really a difference between a sick man or woman who puts deadly poison into a bottle that may eventually kill, and a man or woman who knowingly puts something that is toxic into themselves and then gets behind the wheel of a car or truck and drives on our public roads and highways where they may eventually kill?

Yet look at our determination to stop the first small group of poisoners, and our relative lack of concern for stopping the larger group which for years had been causing thousands of deaths each year!

To test this irony on yourself, ask yourself if you feel differently about one of the drivers who kills while under the influence of alcohol, and a poisoner who kills under the influence of any other evil or sick impulse.

If there is any difference in your reaction, perhaps it stems from the fact that a drunken person who is not behind the wheel of a vehicle has universally been characterized as being "funny." The abnormal behaviour of the poisoners was, by contrast, considered a very real nightmare.

To the victims and the families of any of these tragedies there really is no difference.

Why hasn't the same crisis response effort ever been successful in seeing that vehicles (like containers) can't be tampered with by an alcohol imparied person?

Yes, today some cars now have disable/enable mechanisms, intended to keep an intoxicated person from even starting a vehicle, but the estimate is that less than 1% of the vehicles being driven today are equipped with such a device.

Yes I am mad at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), but not for what they have accomplished, but rather for what they haven't.

Stiffer sentences, license suspensions, and more consistent performance by prosecutors, judges, and the courts, are all progress in a right direction. But, this year more thousands of people will be killed on the roads by these killers, and a comprehensive, tamper-proof solution for stopping them is still not in place.

It is generally estimated that this year one person will die every 50 minutes in an accident caused by an alcohol-impaired driver.

If one of those killed is your friend, your relative, your classmate, your co-worker, you will understand where I am coming from, and maybe you, too, will insist that something be done to finally prevent such deaths and injuries NOW!

When we have taken every step we can to end the needless carnage, we can say as so many surgeons, firemen, police, highway patrol trooopers, and EMT's have had to say to the grieving: "I'm sorry, but we did everything we could."

© This work is licensed under a Creative Comments Attribution-No Derivs 3.0 United States License

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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      If you feel the following statistic is not accurate, give me a link to a better one:

      "Altogether, over a quarter of a million people in the United States have died in alcohol-related accidents over the past decade. The average number of people who die on the roads has stayed relatively static


      Read more:

      Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      The statistics are out there and very easy to find-just visit the NHTSA government site.

      So let me get this straight...are you proposing that because less than 15,000 people die each year from alcohol related crashes in the US that all cars sold must contain a ignition interlock device? If that's the case, we might as well ban cars and driving period.

      I don't think very many people would support this, if it is indeed what you are advocating for.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      If you have reliable statistics with proper sourcing, I will be happy to include them. (I did look for them.) While even one death from DUI or alcohol impairment is one too many, there are still far too many, at the same time that M.A.D.D. and other groups in the USA and Canada are attempting to get the available technical controls more widely accepted or required. I still hope others can see the importance of doing so more quickly. Tragically the instances of multiple offenders finally killing with a vehicle while even driving without a license, continue to appear as local news stories.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      "Yes I am mad at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), but not for what they have accomplished, but rather for what they haven't."

      I hope you are intentionally trying to stir controversy because I must strongly disagree with your assertions. Alcohol related deaths have declined sharply over the last few decades thanks to the hard work of MADD.

      Just take a look at the facts and statistics, especially the yearly fatality rates, none of which are included here.

      While I agree more can be done, I disagree with disparaging MADD.

      We must never let perfect be the enemy of good.

      My condolences if you have lost someone to drunk driving - I have too.