A report from the group MADD — Mothers Against Drunk Driving — concludes Iowa has one of the lowest percentages of traffic deaths that involve a drunk driver. The group’s "State Progress Report" analyzed data from 2007. Utah was the only state which had a lower number of traffic fatalities related to a drunk driver. Last year, there were 106 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Iowa.
Arlene Victor of Bellevue is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Any time people get behind the wheel after drinking, they have the potential to kill and I just think it’s not treated as a serious crime and that’s what it is. It’s a crime," Victor says. "It’s not an accident. It’s a violent crime."
Victor joined MADD after a wreck in Clinton County. "Our son and daughter-in-law were killed by a drunk driver on Easter Sunday, 1984. They were high school sweethearts and both 24 years old, married just three years," Victor says. "Their baby survived the crash. She was injured. She was just 16 months old at the time."
That daughter, Victor’s granddaughter, turned 26 Tuesday. Officials say alcohol was involved in nearly 24 percent of the traffic deaths on Iowa roadways in 2007. Another 15-hundred people were injured in crashes involving a drunk driver. Victor says she believes drunk driving is under-reported and that’s one reason she became a member of MADD.
"I felt as thought I couldn’t let Marty and Chris die in vain. I feel as though every time I tell my story I honor their memory. What happened to them is so wrong and it just breaks my heart that after 24 years it’s still going on," Victor says. "I feel as if there isn’t anyone in this entire country who doesn’t know that it’s wrong to drink and drive, and yet people choose to do it."
According to data from MADD, alcohol-related fatalities in Iowa declined by nearly 11% in 2007 compared to 2006. The group argues Iowa law should be changed to allow law enforcement to conduct sobriety check-points. MADD suggests drunken driving fatalities would decline by another 20% if the law were changed.