(Austin, TX) - AAA Texas held its fourth-annual “DWI March for Change” at the Texas State Capitol on Friday, April 22, 2016. Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Program and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, along with law enforcement officers, traffic safety advocates and people who’ve lost loved ones in alcohol-related crashes participated in the silent march. The goal of the march was to honor lives lost as a result of DWI and to encourage people to change behaviors to prevent other needless losses of lives.
“With every step we take today, we hope someone is watching. Someone who will see us march, someone who will discover why, and someone who will then talk with friends and family about the consequences of driving while impaired,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “Regardless of how little you’ve had to drink or how little of a distance you have to drive, getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, and getting into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking, is a potentially deadly decision.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2015, there were 23,999 DUI-alcohol-related traffic crashes in Texas that resulted in 884 deaths and 2,127 serious injuries.
The latest AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index found more than 1 in 8 people surveyed (13 percent) report driving when their alcohol level might have been near or over the legal limit within the past 12 months. About nine percent of drivers reported doing this more than once over the past year. Previous research by NHTSA estimates that there are nearly 10,000 deaths a year from crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher, and impaired-driving crashes cost the country more than $50 billion per year.
Andi Shimek was one of two women who spoke before the march about losing a child in a DUI alcohol-related crash. Shimek told the crowd her 22-year old son, Kevin, was a vibrant, criminal justice major at Texas State University when the intoxicated driver of a truck he was riding in crashed into a tree on a dark, narrow road less than half a mile away from the family’s home. Kevin was ejected and died in the crash.
“The literal pain in the chest, the nightmares just imagining what he must’ve gone through,” said Shimek. “So many things can trigger the sadness: holidays, birthdays, favorite things, watching his friends graduate, start their careers, marry, have babies. Everybody else gets to live their lives, everybody except Kevin,” she said.
As we approach proms and graduations, AAA Texas hopes the “DWI March for Change” served as an important reminder of the deadly consequences of alcohol-impaired driving. Join AAA in a commitment to driving only while drug and alcohol-free by taking a pledge online at takethepledge.aaa.com. Additional resources to help reduce drunk driving can be found at duijusticelink.aaa.com.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA Texas can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.