MADD teams up with Uber to keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday season


According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the number of people killed by a drunk driver has increased 35 percent in the past five years. Now, MADD is teaming up with Uber to launch a campaign to convince people to ride, not drive, after drinking.

At her home in Powell, surrounded by three children who are filled with excitement inspired by Santa, Deanna Russo said the holiday season is bittersweet.

"The pain is very real, especially at Christmas," Russo said.

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Twenty years ago, her sister, Karen, was killed in Buffalo, New York, when a drunk driver crossed the double yellow line and collided with the vehicle Karen was riding in. She was 18.

Russo said she got a phone call in the middle of the night to go to the hospital.

"A police investigator walked in and said there was an accident, and Karen didn't make it,” she said.

Russo said the drunk driver who killed sister her had a blood alcohol level of .14.

A holiday ornament displaying Karen's photo dangles on the Christmas tree alongside the ornaments crafted by the nieces and nephew who never got to meet their aunt.

Statistics suggest before the holiday season is over, more than one Ohio family will understand Deanna Russo's pain.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said last year during the Christmas holiday, nine people were killed on the roads. Three of those deadly crashes were OVI-related.

It continued through the New Year, where OSHP reported five fatal crashes that ended six lives. Troopers said two of those crashes were OVI-related.

During the entire holiday week in 2017, Ohio troopers made nearly 300 OVI arrests.

Troopers caution drunk drivers are on the roads at all times of the day, every day of the week. In 2017, OSHP arrested more than 400 drunk drivers between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Russo said after 20 years, she is left with the reality that the crash that ended her sister's life was completely preventable. This holiday season, Russo is urging everyone to arrange a safe ride home before they head out to festive celebrations.

"Drunk driving is not something that you should think about when you're at the party, or at the bar, and you've had two, or three, or four, because by then, it's too late," she said.

For more information on the campaign between MADD and Uber, click here.