MADD Pushing Designated Drivers for 4th

MADD Pushing Designated Drivers for 4th

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -

As families and friends make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Alabama is reminding adults to plan ahead for a non-drinking designated driver — whether on the road or on the water — if alcohol will be a part of the festivities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 161 people were killed in drunk driving crashes nationwide over Fourth of July weekend in 2011 (the most recent year for which there is data), which represents a 70 percent increase over the average number of drunk driving deaths per day.

In addition to the dangers posed by drunk driving on roadways, the United States Coast Guard reports that alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities last year; in fact, it was the leading factor in 17 percent of boating deaths.

"The dangers of drinking and driving are the same, whether you're on the road or on the water," said Pamela Morton, State Victim Services Specialist, MADD Alabama. "MADD wants Alabama residents to know that preventing tragedy can be as simple as planning ahead for a non-drinking designated driver on the Fourth of July and year-round."

In the late afternoon of Friday, July 20, 2012, 24-year-old Andrew Beach departed the home he shared with his dad in rural Toney, Alabama.

At about the same time, 59-year-old Gerald L. Gibbs and three companions departed the Just One More bar, less than one and a half miles from Andrew's home. Shortly thereafter,

Gibbs slammed into the rear end of Andrew's car while Andrew was at a stop sign, killing him instantly and propelling his car over 150 feet.

The Alabama Highway Patrol conducted an exhaustive investigation of the crash, and then on June 18, 2013, Gerald Gibbs was arrested and booked into the Madison County Jail for murder. 

"We hold the officers of the Alabama Highway Patrol in the highest regard for putting their lives on the line every day", said Andrew's parents, Herman and Holly Beach.

"The justice system can never make up for the loss of our son, but as his parents, we take some solace in the fact that the act that took our son's life has been viewed as a serious matter by our state and community."

"Andrew is missed every moment of every day," added the Beaches. "As parents who have suffered the greatest possible loss, we appeal to everyone to consider the awful consequences of driving under the influence. Please don't drink and drive."

MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving includes support for high-visibility law enforcement efforts, and as part of the nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown around the Fourth of July, law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts to deter and detect drunk driving.

For more information about MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, visit www.madd.org/campaign.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America's roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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