WASHINGTON — Mothers Against Drunk Driving celebrated 40 years of fighting for change this week. Over those four decades, the organization has been able to significantly cut down the number of drunk driving incidents.
Twenty years ago, Helen Witty's life changed forever. Her 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
Today, Witty is the National MADD President.
"What brought me to MADD was the death of my teen daughter who was rollerblading on a bike path when she was run down by a 17-year-old girl who was drunk on tequila, and having smoked marijuana at the same time," Witty said.
While efforts to get drunk driving under control have been successful, the organization is facing a new challenge with marijuana. It is now working to spread the message about the dangers of using marijuana and getting behind the wheel.
"Marijuana, because it is being legalized in so many states and the perception in our country is that it is not harmful, when it is," said Witty.
A recent survey conducted by MADD focused on marijuana use and driving. Witty says the results were alarming.
The survey found 41% of people believe it is safer to drive with marijuana than it is with alcohol. One in three young people who drink combine marijuana with alcohol.
"That's horrifying because that's more impairing than either one on its own," said Witty.
On top of that, the survey found one in eight people admit to consuming marijuana and getting behind the wheel.
"This is something we want everybody to be aware of before more people go to prison and kill people. We want families to remain intact," said Witty.