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Waymo partners with MADD to raise road safety awareness during the holidays

December 16, 2019

Partnered with Waymo

Ribbon on a car for MADD and Waymo collaboration

The expression “tie one on” has long been used as a euphemism for drinking to excess. No one is exactly sure of the origin of the expression, but in 1986, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) decided to transform the expression for a road safety campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving.

The campaign, called “Tie One On For Safety”, is MADD’s longest-running and most famous public awareness project. It takes place every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the time of year with the highest number of drunk driving fatalities. As part of the campaign, supporters tie red ribbons to their cars as a reminder to always designate a sober driver. Magnets, stickers, and other symbols have also gained usage in the campaign.

This year, Waymo is supporting MADD’s campaign by affixing red magnets with MADD branding to its self-driving fleet. MADD is a partner of Let’s Talk Self-Driving and this year collaborated with Let’s Talk to publish the story of Jennifer, a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driving crash and now educates others about preventing drunk driving.

According to National Safety Council, nearly all crashes are caused by mistakes made by humans. This includes drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs - both legal prescription drugs and illegal drugs - and driving distracted.

Along with our other partners, MADD believes that self-driving technology could help reduce impaired driving because Waymo’s fully self-driving technology is built to assume all the functions of a safe driver. Waymo vehicles never drive drunk or distracted. They can also see all around, up to nearly three football fields away, and local safety rules (such as speed limits and road signs) are built into Waymo’s internal maps.

Furthermore, Waymo's fully self-driving technology is being perfected to constantly scan vehicle surroundings and safely determine the vehicle's next move while anticipating what other road users may do next.

Sadly, the number of fatalities on our nation’s roads is still far too high: even one fatality is one too many. About 40,000 people die every year on our roads, and the number is stubbornly fixed at the same staggering toll, year after year. Last year, 1,068 people were killed in drunk driving crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the equivalent of three jetliners.

So how can you participate in the Tie One On For Safety campaign?

  • Ask guests at your holiday party to donate to MADD instead of bringing a hostess gift.
  • Distribute Tie One On for Safety ribbons at your party, available for purchase from MADD or at your local MADD office. Find your local office.
  • Display a MADD red ribbon, magnet, or window decal in a visible location on your vehicles.
  • Offer mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages at your parties.
  • Help guests who have been drinking access alternate transportation or accommodations.
  • Visit MADD's site to get more tips.

Remember that drunk driving is a behavior and a choice, not a person. Even a person who doesn’t think of themselves as a “drunk driver” can still inadvertently end up driving drunk because they don’t make a plan for who will be the designated driver. Remember to always designate a sober driver who will restrict or refrain from drinking before going out with a group in a car, and before anyone takes their first drink. 

Always demonstrate safe driving choices and behaviors, and encourage any youth or teen drivers whom you may know to do the same thing. 

As a reminder, night is the most dangerous time to drive, and driving at night is a risk factor in and of itself. Remember that you can reduce your road safety risk and improve safety for yourself and others simply by making and modeling safe driving decisions.