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Hundreds 'Walk Like MADD' Against Drunk Driving

Teams from across the state walked Sunday on NC State's campus to raise awareness about the human cost of drunk driving.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Teams from across North Carolina participated in a fund raising walk for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Saturday morning.

Hundreds strolled across North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus as part of the Walk Like MADD event.

Participants said they were working to raise not only money, but awareness of the human costs of drunk driving.

"Drunk driving affects everyone in the community," walker Len Mueller said. "You see the number of people that are harmed and that they are not alone."

North Carolina ranked seventh in the country, with 554 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That accounted for 36 percent of all traffic fatalities statewide.

Nationally, an average of 13,000 people are killed by drunk drivers each year.

Organizers said Walk Like MADD surpassed its fund raising goal of $80,000 by more than $3,000.

The funds will go to programs to support victims of drunk driving, to educate children about drinking and to encourage the practice of designated drivers.

During the walk's opening ceremonies, national singer-songwriter Lynn Carey Saylor performed her single, "I Wasn't a Friend," about witnessing a drunk-driving crash when she was 16.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole served as keynote speaker and honorary chair of the day's events.

Monitech, Inc. gave demonstrations of alcohol-ignition interlock throughout the morning. The breath-test devices are linked to a vehicle's ignition system and will not let a car start if it detects any alcohol on the driver's breath.

In 2009, MADD plans to push legislation to require alcohol-ignition interlocks to be installed on vehicles belonging to all convicted drunk drivers.

Current law mandates that the devices must be placed in the vehicles of repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher.

A recent MADD survey gave North Carolina credit for the fourth-best drunk-driving laws among the 50 states.

In 2006, 36 people died in alcohol-related wrecks in Wake County, the second-highest total in the state, behind Mecklenberg County.

Robeson tied for third with Guilford County, with 22 deaths. Cumberland County had the fourth-highest total, with 16 fatalities.

Johnston and Wayne counties each saw 12 fatalities; Durham, 10; Wilson and Orange, 9 each; Lee, 8; Wayne, 7; and Halifax, 6.

Other counties in WRAL's viewing area had five or fewer alcohol-related traffic fatalities.



Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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