Sep 262006

Tankar kring MADD Swedens tal till den amerikanska nationen och MADDs 25th Anniversary 2005.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Lars Lewerth. I represent MADD Sweden.

As the first European participant Sweden became affiliated with MADD in 2003 and signed an agreement with the organisation in February that year. Contacts beween Sweden and MADD National started in 1996, when I had the first contact over the telephone with Mrs Tina Pasco, executive director MADD Los Angeles. I was at that time working as an consultant for the Swedish National Road Administration, and we wanted to reach out and get even more knowledge how others dealed with the issue of drunk driving.

In 1992 I met a president from the FMS Production who distributes several treatment films regarding alcoholic problems and diseases over a cup of coffee. He mentioned MADD as a militant organisation of angry women, who get out on the freeways, put up a lot of crashed cars besides the driveway, with a neonlight at the top, telling us all that someone was killed by a drunk driver right there. I became interested and wanted to know more about MADD. I did and I made a documentary on video for Sweden and how you work over here to deal with the problem.

MADD Sweden is an organisation on the move. Both victims and ordinary normal members together who just want to make a difference in peoples lives in fighting this awful crime. We are spread all over the country. And you see, we are only 9 million people in the whole country. Comparing to your amount of fatalities concerning drunk driving, our problem is a little bit smaller, but unfortunately it is increasing nowadays.

The total amount of traffic collisions with dead and injured people is actually decreasing, but people involved in drunk driving fatalities are increasing.

There is not only one reason for that, but one of the primary causes would be that we today are members in the European Union since five years. This gives us a more liberated situation when it comes to bringing in for instance alcoholic beverages less expensive from abroad, and to a bigger amount than before the membership. This lead us into some horrifying results of alcohol consumption, which has increased by 15 per cent since 2003.

MADD Sweden works together with several other organisations like the Swedish Road Administration, MHF (The Swedish Abstaining Motorists’ Association) as well as people from the Government and the Social Ministry.

We are involved in different activities today and work very hard to involve all parts of the society into our work as members and as responsible participants in the fight against drunk driving.

For example, we have joined The Every 15 Minutes Programme in our country which is one of the programmes we brought over from California. We have representatives who speak in schools, going on tour with our own multimedia production Long Live the Life. By the way, we never show this huge film without having discussions afterwards or lessons as a matter of fact. The schools are not allowed to bring in the film to the school without taking care of the problem in discussions with the students!

MADD is also highly participating in a very popular event called Death Trip. It is a programme where highschool students from various parts of the country are competing in how to communicate drunk driving problems to others in a creative way. The best communication profile will get an award every spring. This event is held in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

We are also doing the Victim Impact Panel Programme in different parts which we feel is a programme with high impact.

MADD Sweden is also involved in the future development concerning alcolocks. The Swedish Abstaining Motorists’ Association, who actually signed the formal agreement with MADD National back in 2003, has got MADD Sweden under their wings until we can make it our own way financially. MHF has forced the development of alcolocks and has achieved a powerful level of interests from politicians, car companies and definitely high interests from various decision makers in Europe as well as here in the United States. As a country Sweden is in the very frontline in this development and MADD Sweden believes it will help a lot in our country. It will definitely help to decrease the amount of drunk drivers on the roads.

Sometimes we are talking about Sweden as the best country in the world reagarding road safety. Our BAC level is the lowest – .02 – and we are convinced in our own vision, We call it Zero Vision, which means that nobody should ever be killed or injured in the traffic environment.

I would like to tell you again that on behalf of hundreds of people back in Sweden we appreciate everything MADD does, here and in my home country. We are greatful to be part of the solution. In my country there are every year some 150 people killed by drunk drivers. Some 1 000 are badly injured. Comparing to your country with some 270 million people, I WOULD SAY – THAT´S NOTHING. But from our perspective – it´s too many!

Today, this very date on this big 25th anniversary event for MADD, our organisation in Sweden has for the third time in our history a big manifestation against drunk driving. Together with volonteers MADD is out in the streets, ligtning candles, distributing folders and our mission. Some of them are speaking from a speaker’s corner in Gothenburg, Stockholm, Malmö, Luleå, Kramfors, Kalmar and several other cities. This is an event that brings the society together for our question. The media are there, politicians are there, some of them will speak for us, too.

MADD Sweden is greatful and we wish you all good luck and fill your breasts with energy to struggle on to getting out message and stop drunk driving as strong as you always do. Thank you.

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