Effort to save lives makes the rounds during busy time of year for Hispanic family gatherings, celebrations
AUSTIN - Easter, Fiesta and Cinco de Mayo are deeply cherished celebrations within the Hispanic community, but the festivities emphasizing food, family and fun can also lead to tragedy when drinking and driving is involved. In an effort to save lives during this busy time of year, the Texas Department of Transportation is introducing Drink. Drive. Go to Jail. De Veras., a bilingual, culturally relevant campaign aimed at encouraging Hispanic drivers, as well as others, to never drink and drive. Running through May 5, the campaign features a touring interactive truck - themed with imagery inspired by Lotería, a Mexican game of chance similar to bingo - that will visit select cities to invite people to play a game that reminds them not to drink and drive.
"Hispanic citizens make up approximately one-third of our state's population," said John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director. "This time of year is important and fun, because Easter and Cinco de Mayo hold special cultural significance. We just want to remind everyone that DUI-alcohol crashes are 100 percent preventable, and that one smart decision not to drink and drive can save someone's life, including your own."
In 2013, there were 25,158 DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas that resulted in 8,702 serious injuries and 1,022 deaths. Of those DUI-alcohol crashes, 11,867 - or nearly 37 percent - involved a Hispanic driver. Among young male drivers ages 17-34, Hispanics accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of all crashes where drivers were under the influence of alcohol.
TxDOT is working diligently to educate the public in order to reverse these disturbing statistics. To amplify this effort, TxDOT is partnering with the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce on the Hispanic campaign.
"Texas is home to a large Hispanic population, and we see a definite need to address the issue of drinking and driving in a way that resonates with these drivers and connects with them on a cultural level," said Pauline Anton, executive director, Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce. "The key to changing behavior is education, and this campaign achieves this level of heightened awareness. We hope to see many lives saved as a result of the campaign."
This year, the Spanish phrase "De Veras" was added to the existing campaign message of "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." A common expression of disbelief among Spanish speakers, ¿De Veras? or For Real?, emphatically reinforces the severity of the statement. In other words, Yes, For Real, Believe It! - if caught drinking and driving, you will go to jail.
The Lotería truck, which debuted at San Antonio's Fiesta, is manned by a street team and will continue to make stops at high-traffic community events to offer audience participation in a live, interactive Lotería game. The game cards feature a twist on the traditional Lotería game by incorporating the campaign's safety messages as an education tool. Music and prizes also will be part of the interactive game experience. The Lotería truck will travel to the following cities in April and May to share the campaign's safety message:
Laredo: Centro de Laredo Farmer's Market, April 19
McAllen: Vida Verde Prickly Pear Cactus Festival, April 26
Corpus Christi: Buc Days Festival, April 27
Lubbock: Cinco de Mayo Festival, May 3
For media inquiries, contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov or (512) 463-8700.
Texas Department of Transportation
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail, and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 11,000 employees are committed to working with others to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas by maintaining a safe system, addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities, and being a Best in Class state agency. Find out more at www.txdot.gov . "Like" us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/txdot ; and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/txdot.