By Sarah Naron
AUSTIN – With “the most wonderful time of the year” in full swing and Christmas right around the corner, there are plenty of “parties for hosting” to give holiday enthusiasts everywhere the chance to catch up with loved ones – and perhaps savor the occasional grown-up Christmas beverage. Before partygoers get too caught up in “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” however, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is encouraging them to ‘Plan While You Can’ to avoid a potentially heartbreaking holiday.
“Tragically, there are many families who experience the holidays without a loved one due to a drunk driver,” said James Bass, Executive Director of TxDOT. “We need to remember that each time someone dies or is seriously injured on our roadways, it affects a family and an entire community.
“Don’t make a bad decision that could cause heartache for your family and others,” Bass encouraged. “Make a plan to get home safely. It could save lives.”
Rather than climbing behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages, TxDOT is encouraging drivers to ensure they have a plan to get home safely before their festivities of choice even begin. The organization suggests the following alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Designating a sober driver.
• Contacting a cab or ride-share service.
• Using mass transit.
• Asking a sober friend or family member for a ride home.
• Spending the night.
According to statistics provided in the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3), Texas saw a total of 2,321 crashes caused by drunk driving during the period of time between Dec. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017. These fatalities accounted for one in four of the deaths which occurred on Texas roadways throughout the month.
In addition to running the risk of killing or seriously injuring themselves or other drivers and passengers, individuals who choose to drive while under the influence could lose their driver’s license, face jail time and be subject to fees and fines totaling up to $17,000.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation at the end of last month declaring that December is officially designated as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
“On average, every 50 minutes, a person in the United States dies in a vehicle crash involving alcohol,” the proclamation read in part. “We have seen too many lives cut short by impaired driving, and too many drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk every day.”
President Trump hopes that throughout the month, Americans will keep in mind “that impaired driving is never acceptable…recognize that we can eliminate impaired driving through our choices and…pledge to make the right choice by driving sober.”
“Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing impaired driving lies within each of us,” Trump said through the proclamation. “We care for our loved ones when we keep them safe and prevent them taking the wheel after drinking alcohol. By taking action…we can reduce deaths and accidents arising from impaired driving.”
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.