• The organization cites both statistics and anecdotes about Georgia’s falling drunk driving accident rate.

Future generations may be free of the tragedies drunk drivers cause thanks to efforts Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the police force are making to create safer roads.

The organization shared both statistics and anecdotes about the dangers of driving under the influence, and the police, a gathering of officers from all across Northwest Georgia, took the meeting to heart by setting up a road checkpoint.

Georgia contributed 368 deaths to 2016’s national 10,497 drunk driving fatalities, but sobriety checkpoints and license revocations have lowered the state’s crashes.

Ignition interlock devices, designed to stop cars from starting when alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath, are quickly being implemented. Approximately one-third of all United States traffic crash deaths involve drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher, and younger drivers between ages 16 through 24 made up 39 percent of impaired drivers in 2016.

MADD is, directly and indirectly, responsible for numerous alcohol-related laws, and DUI fatalities have witnessed a drop of approximately 50 percent since the organization’s inception.

“If you can even get one off the road, that would be good,” drunk driver victim Julia Russell said. “Back in 2014, matter the fact March 30, there was a young lady that was highly intoxicated she had an alcohol level three times over the limit. She had that on top of seizure medicine which said ‘do not drink alcohol,’ so that let you know how serious, how intoxicated she was that night.”

Russell and her husband were returning from church, and on the way home were struck by the drunk driver head on, without headlights on a starless night. The crash killed her husband and nearly killed Russell too.

“The lady you’re seeing today is really a miracle,” Russell said. “They told me I would not walk, and I’m walking. They said I would not talk. I only had a 20 percent chance to talk again, but I’m talking very strongly. Now, I partner with MADD to give my testimony.”

The hardship drunk driving causes now personified, the officers took to Aragon for a checkpoint that ensured any passerby had everything they needed to be driving both legally and safely.

Georgia is one of 37 states that conduct checkpoints, and the stops give officers an opportunity to ensure all traffic laws are being upheld.

“The stops help get impaired drivers off the road,” officer Andy Anderson said. “People who have outstanding warrants, not having licenses, enforcing child safety seats. We have a child safety technician on scene. We try to educate them, and we get the drivers that aren’t allowed to be on the road, off the road. We go hand-in-hand with all the different agencies, and we work together as a team. It benefits the citizens of our county, and that’s the main reason we do it.”

MADD was founded by Candy Lightner in 1980, and works to aid victims of intoxicated drivers, to increase public awareness, to educate the public, and to bring the number of DUI injuries and fatalities to zero.

More information about the group can be found at /www.madd.org.