AUSTIN — Drinking and driving is a year-round problem that gets worse in the summer. As part of a national effort to save lives and crack down on impaired driving, the Texas Department of Transportation announces its “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” campaign from Aug. 16 - Sept. 2. During the campaign, select Texas colleges will host a simulated jail cell that allows visitors a harsh glimpse into the consequences of drunk driving.
“Summer celebrations often times involve alcohol, and this is especially the time when we see a rise in fatalities on Texas roads,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. “Unfortunately, the problem has gotten even deadlier over the Labor Day weekend. If your Labor Day activities involve alcohol, you should plan for a sober ride home before leaving your house. Otherwise, you run the risk of killing yourself and others, or going to jail. Either way, you can’t afford it.”
According to TxDOT statistics, 411 alcohol-related fatalities occurred in Texas during the 2012 summer months of May through August. Additionally, during the Labor Day holiday reporting period, alcohol-related traffic fatalities more than doubled from 8 in 2011 to 19 in 2012.
College-age drinking and simulated jail cell tour
Drunk driving among college students continues to be a major problem. Last year, there were 7,096 vehicle crashes in Texas involving drivers between ages 18 and 24 who were under the influence of alcohol. Those crashes led to 2,181 serious injuries and 231 fatalities.
The “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” campaign includes a simulated jail cell that allows participants to experience jail, receive a fake mug shot and only be released by a “warden” after completing a DWI quiz. College students also can enter to win a donated $600 Apple® gift card and a $500 iTunes gift card by writing on a message board pledging never to drink and drive, or by texting “Save” to 42330. The jail cell will visit the following college campuses:
• Aug. 20: Arlington – University of Texas at Arlington (10 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
• Aug. 21: Lubbock – Texas Tech University (noon - 4 p.m.)
• Aug. 23: El Paso – Cohen Stadium, 9700 Gateway North Blvd. (6 p.m. - 9 p.m. during Diablos’ baseball game)
• Aug. 26: Midland – University of Texas at Permian Basin (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
• Aug. 27: Austin – University of Texas at Austin (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
• Aug. 28: Edinburg – University of Texas at Pan American (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
• Aug. 29: San Antonio – University of Texas at San Antonio (11 a.m. - 1 p.m., downtown), (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., main)
• Aug. 30: Houston – University of Houston (1 p.m. - 5 p.m.)
Along with TxDOT’s “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” campaign, law enforcement will work thousands of overtime hours as part of the national crackdown effort being coordinated and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.