Texas Department of Transportation Encourages ‘Plan While You Can’
The Stephens family is planning their annual holiday feast. But this year, one seat at their dinner table will remain empty.
Their daughter, Jade, was killed when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and T-boned their car, just days before Jade's 10th birthday.
"We miss her every day, but we feel the loss of her presence particularly around the holidays," said Eric Stephens, Jade's father. "We miss her joy and infectious laugh. No other family should experience a loss like ours due to drinking and driving. All it takes is planning ahead for a sober ride."
The Stephen's family is sharing Jade's story through the Texas Department of Transportation's "Plan While You Can" campaign to communicate the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. The goal is to save lives and decrease alcohol-related crashes, with special emphasis during the holidays when alcohol consumption is more prevalent.
As a combined result of the "Plan While You Can" campaign and the efforts of many state and local community partners, including law enforcement, Texas experienced a 9 percent decrease in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during last year's holiday season, compared to the previous year. Still, during last year's holiday season, there were 2,374 alcohol-related crashes in the state, resulting in 102 fatalities and 205 serious injuries.
"We are saving lives through our education efforts and by sharing compelling stories from families who have lost loved ones," said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.
"However one life lost is one too many. Finding a sober driver is easy and it can save you from being arrested, or from injuring or killing yourself or others. By making an effort to plan ahead for a sober ride together we can continue to save lives."
The "Plan While You Can" campaign includes a state tour featuring an interactive dodgeball game, in which participants dodge "snowballs" as virtual drinks are added to the screen. As more drinks are added, the players' on-screen avatars respond more slowly to players' movements. Participants experience how drinking can slow their reaction times.
As always, TxDOT strongly encourages everyone to plan for a sober ride before going out. You can visit this website to find alternatives to drinking and driving, such as, calling a taxi or using a transportation app on your smartphone, using mass transit, asking a sober friend or family member for a ride, or spending the night where you are, if possible.