When Alex Otte was 13 years old, she was critically injured when she was hit by a drunk boater. She spent many weeks in the ICU and several more weeks in a wheelchair. Now, as the National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), she’s working to stop these preventable crashes for good.
“I knew I wanted to be the last little girl it would ever happen to, and I wanted to fight for that,” Otte told ABC15 Arizona.
MADD has reduced drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and helped save more than 400,000 lives by promoting the importance of designating a non-drinking driver. Yet drunk and impaired driving is still the leading cause of death on U.S. roadways, according to MADD.
Drunk driving and the resulting crashes and fatalities are more prevalent during the holidays – especially between Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Day – when there is more drinking and more people are on the roads.
“We want everyone to stay safe and enjoy this festive time by making sure plans for a designated driver are a top priority,” Otte said.
So, this holiday season, people in the Phoenix East Valley will be able to designate the Waymo Driver with a discounted ride between now and New Year’s Day.
Waymo operates a fully autonomous ride-hailing service in the Phoenix East Valley, and its entire fleet of autonomously driven vehicles are displaying a red ribbon during the holidays as part of MADD’s 35th Anniversary Tie One On for Safety Holiday Campaign. The campaign encourages everyone to tie a red ribbon – or more recently place red ribbon magnets or decals - on their car as a reminder to always designate a non-drinking driver.
“We have a very shared mission and that is to end drunk driving,” Otte said of MADD’s four-year, ongoing partnership with Waymo. “Our goal is to give people the most options to make the right choice.”
Tempe Police Officer Chris Phillips believes the technology could have changed the course of his life. He was hit by a drunk driver while working on a DUI task force, and sustained serious injuries.
“If this technology had been available or she had had a plan to get home, this would have never happened,” Phillips said.
The Waymo Driver is designed to safely handle all the tasks of driving, including following traffic laws and respecting other road users, while people sit back and remain as passengers.
“We know that Waymo being so convenient on an app can give people no excuse for making the wrong choice,” Otte said.
Otte said MADD is grateful to Waymo for their ongoing partnership and for sharing the vision of zero deaths and zero injuries caused by drunk and drug-impaired driving.
"Everyone deserves to have fun and get home safe during the holidays," said Mauricio Peña, Waymo's chief safety officer in a press release. "At Waymo, we're proud to display red ribbons on our entire fleet and offer a safe mode of transportation to our Waymo One riders in Phoenix and San Francisco this holiday season."
As part of the Tie One On for Safety campaign, Waymo is offering riders in the Phoenix East Valley 50% off an autonomous driving ride through New Year's Day by using the promo code MADD21.
“You have the power to make the right choice,” Otte urged. “Make a plan before the first drink so that we all get to go home safely and we all get to go home in one piece.”