‘You can change your life’: MADD Utah president urges responsibility to prevent impaired driving

Dec 31, 2023, 10:22 PM | Updated: Jan 1, 2024, 6:09 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Art Brown speaks up so others don’t have to suffer the way his family did.

He has told the story of what happened 23 years ago many times. It started for him with a phone call on New Year’s Eve, 1999.

“(She) said, ‘I’ve been in a terrible crash,'” Brown said. “She said, ‘I’m going with my husband to another hospital. Two of my children are being life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital, and I don’t think one of them is going to make it.'”

The family had been struck by a drunk driver at Interstate 15 and 3300 South. Brown says his 4-month-old grandson was taken off of life support a couple of days later.

“It’s a tragedy that that rolls forward in all of your life,” Brown said. “Every holiday there’s missing chairs and it just shatters your life that you have to go on and be functional, but it’s never the same.”

As the current president and longtime member of Utah’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Brown urges people each year to do what needs to be done to keep the roads safe: getting a ride with a friend, calling an Uber or Lyft or taxi.

Decisions of others

But he also said we need to watch for the choices others might be making around us.

“If you know somebody’s been drinking, help them find a safe way home,” Brown said. “It’s important that we have to step up and encourage people everywhere to don’t drink and drive. And if you know somebody that is you should try to prevail otherwise.”

Early Sunday evening, Brown was bringing refreshments for Utah Highway Patrol troopers who were preparing to work overnight on Utah’s roads. Each New Year’s Eve, they staff up by the hundreds statewide, to try and get impaired drivers off the road before they can cause any damage.

But as Brown reminds us, they can’t be everywhere.

“You can change your life,” Brown said. “It’s not just being arrested. You may die or you may live. And your friend that drives with you may die or you may be arrested.”

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‘You can change your life’: MADD Utah president urges responsibility to prevent impaired driving