State enlists Santa in annual holiday campaign against drunk driving

Santa Claus is warning Texas drivers: He’s not the only one watching to see if they’re being good or bad. All available state troopers will be on the roads during Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends watching for drunk drivers. Police and sheriff’s departments throughout Texas also are stepping up DWI enforcement efforts. Penalties for driving while intoxicated can include driver’s license suspension, fines and jail time. State transportation officials are joining forces with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the food and beverage industry to enlist Santa’s help in the Texas Department of Transportation’s annual statewide campaign reminding Texans not to drink and drive during the holiday season. Last December 83 people were killed and 2,303 were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Texas. “If alcohol is involved in their holiday celebrations, we’re reminding people not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking,” said Susan Bryant, traffic safety director for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). “Safe alternatives are to designate a sober driver before drinking begins, call a taxi or just stay where you are until you can drive home safely.” Texas leads the nation in alcohol-related traffic crashes. In 1998, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported there were more than 26,000 alcohol-related crashes in Texas, resulting in 1,058 fatalities and 27,058 injuries. The state’s holiday campaign again features the slogan “Santa Is Coming To Town, Please Don’t Hit Him. Don’t Drink and Drive.” Billboards, ads atop gas pumps and TV and radio commercials echo the safe driving message. Materials are available in both English and Spanish. Santa’s and TxDOT’s helpers in the campaign include the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Texas Package Stores Association, Texas Restaurant Association, Diamond Shamrock and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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