The first person arrested for drunk driving was George Smith, a London cabbie who drove into a building in 1897. Government agencies have been trying to limit the number of alcohol-related accidents ever since.
The Texas Department of Transportation has initiated their summer “Person Appointed to Stay Sober” campaign, known by its acronym P.A.S.S.. You’re probably familiar with their holiday and seasonal PASS campaigns. The department will use a variety of media, including radio, online, social media, and billboards to remind drivers to designate a sober driver to get them to their destination safely.
According to the National Transportation Safety Administration, nationally the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities has declined by 27% over the past ten years. In 2011, nationally the highest percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher was drivers between the ages of 21 to 24 (32%), followed by 25-35 (30%) and 35 to 44 (24%).
Texas isn’t keeping up with the national averages. In fact, we’re going backwards. Between 2008 and 2012 from June 1 thru August 31 the number of alcohol-related fatalities has increased by 10.3%. Someone is hurt or killed in an alcohol-related crash in Texas about every 20 minutes.
“We know that in the summer Texans are going to be making plans to hit the beach, or backyard barbecue, outdoor concerts,” says Triple-A Texas spokesman Doug Shupe. “We want to encourage everybody to make sure that they have a sober driver. Triple-A Texas knows that DWI impacts everybody in our state. It impacts drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and runners. That’s why we’re working together to reduce alcohol-related crashes.”
Sherry Robinson is the Misdemeanor Chief at the Ft. Bend County District Attorney’s office, and has seen first-hand the heart-wrenching tragedies that accompany drunken driving crashes.
“I just finished an intoxicated manslaughter case where two young 25-year-old people with the rest of their lives in front of them were killed by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way on US 59,” she explained, “And ran into their car and killed them both. So it can have devastating consequences.”