Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that the National Football League will officially endorse and become part of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)'s "Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving" initiative and expand its partnership with the organization in the 2013 season.
Goodell made the announcement at the NFL's annual league meeting in Phoenix. Debbie Weir, MADD chief executive officer, and Jan Withers, MADD national president, are making presentations at the meeting in front of NFL owners, coaches, general managers and team executives.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk drivers annually kill nearly 10,000 people and injure more than 300,000. Forty-two percent of all drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes are 21-34 years old and 80 percent are male.
The NFL endorses MADD'S "Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving," which includes:
- Supporting high visibility law enforcement activities to catch drunk drivers and discourage others from driving drunk.
- Requiring ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders, to prove they are sober before their car will start. When a convicted drunk driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device. The vehicle will not start unless the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is below a preset level.
- Supporting the development of vehicle technology that could automatically determine a driver's BAC and stop a drunk driver above the legal limit of .08 from driving.
"We are pleased to endorse MADD's campaign and further build upon our partnership to do everything we can warn players, team personnel and fans about the dangers of drunk driving," Goodell said. "We have made progress but have more work to do to ensure that everyone associated with the NFL makes safe, responsible decisions with alcohol and never gets behind the wheel when they shouldn't."
"MADD is confident that through our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, we'll be able to put an end to the devastation experienced by the hundreds of thousands of new victims and survivors who are killed and injured in drunk driving crashes each year," Withers said. "We are very pleased by the NFL's support of the Campaign. Their support helps send a clear message that drunk driving is unacceptable - and above all, 100 percent preventable."
MADD will use the NFL shield on its website, press materials and in its lobby efforts.
In addition, the NFL will continue to expand upon its partnership with MADD on player and employee programs, game day initiatives and awareness programs. The NFL first partnered with MADD in May 2010.
- In addition to a MADD presence at the annual Rookie Symposium in June, the NFL plans on convening an alcohol-related summit this year in conjunction with MADD that will include NFL players, coaches, team doctors and executives, counselors, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the NCAA.
- In 2012, MADD presented a series of Victim Impact Panels during which a victim of drunk driving explains the tragic consequences of driving drunk to players, coaches and staff for the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. More clubs will participate in these sessions in 2013.
- In 2012, MADD partnered with 11 teams (up from two in 2011) on parking lot pregame public awareness programs. This upcoming season, additional teams and stadiums will participate. MADD staff and volunteers circulate in NFL parking lots during the pregame tailgating period promoting the message of designating a non-drinking driver before the game to get fans home safe. The program enhances the teams' existing designated driver programs. At these 11 stadiums, nearly 250,000 fans signed up to be designated drivers, up 10 percent from 2011.
- MADD also has and will continue to have a presence at the Super Bowl Media Center to aid in education and media outreach.