Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why I decided to join MADD...and it might not be for the reasons you think

I have a terrible memory, but there are some things I could never forget. As a young child, I remember my mother receiving a phone call and being very emotional immediately after. Two cars had been involved in a car accident in our rural community on Prince Edward Island and it was the result of drinking and driving. The crash victims were mainly teenagers and most, if not all, were dead.

It was a heartbreaking story, but one I would hear again and again, only with different names and faces. I heard it on the news, in different cities in different years. I've read it on Facebook and in emails. And sadly, it’s a story that I will probably keep hearing in the years to come.

In 2012, I would learn the news that one of my close friends had also died as a result of drinking and driving; and I was furious.

I was furious because she got in a car with someone who had been drinking. I was furious because she had a young child at home, a factor I thought would make her rethink that one, tragic decision. I was furious because it was one of many, irrational decisions she had made during the time I had known her. I was furious that someone was arrogant enough to think that he was okay to drive. But mostly I was furious because this same young woman, years earlier, had been caught drinking and driving herself. She lost her license for a period of time, was lectured by many people – including me – for her irresponsible behavior. It’s not difficult to see the irony in this circumstance.

Having said that, it was still a heartbreaking situation. I understand that people make bad decisions, bad judgments; there’s probably been times we’ve all been in similar situations, without realizing the severity, but happened to be lucky.

I returned to PEI after living ‘away’ for many years. One of the things I noticed almost right away was the casualness of people when it came to drinking and driving. There were excuses (‘there are no cabs around, how is someone supposed to get home’), justifications (‘he’s always done it and never had an accident before’) and of course, just plain ignorance. There seems to be this underlining sense of entitlement among some people, a belief that flying down the road after getting wasted is acceptable. Not like there is much traffic in rural areas, right?

The thing is, most of the stories I’m hearing aren’t about cars hitting other cars, but rather drunk drivers hitting pedestrians; people going for walks on the side of island roads. As you can imagine, this activity is usually done during daylight; we aren’t talking late night stragglers nor are we talking sober drivers.

I joined MADD because of my anger regarding drunk drivers. I’m angry that my close friend once drove drunk, got caught and didn’t learn her lesson. I’m angry because she later died and the person responsible got a pretty light sentence for taking her life. I’m angry because people think it’s a joke, that getting drunk out of your mind than driving down the road is a very rock star thing to do. I’m angry that right now, there’s someone, probably not far from my house, who is drunk and in a car or on an ATV, with no regards for anyone except themselves. Drinking and driving isn’t just a moronic decision, it’s a selfish and arrogant choice that people make every day, throughout this country.

I joined MADD because I want to make a difference. I don’t seek the group’s support as much as I want to fight for the people who no longer have a voice; and sadly, those who may soon lose their voice because someone decided to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

Canadian author Mima is known for her complicated and diverse characters, a dark style and for never shying away from controversial topics. To request an interview or if you are interested in doing a book review, please send requests here  

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1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said Michelle. Very powerful statement and indictment of drunk drivers and the people who enable them.