SAN ANTONIO – The holiday season is quickly approaching and with that comes the harsh reality that Thanksgiving ranks second to the Christmas and New Year holiday period as the deadliest time of year for deadly crashes involving alcohol.
In an effort of raising awareness and preventing DUI-related crashes, the Texas Department of Transportation gathered Friday to launch its “Drive Sober, No regrets” holiday drunken driving prevention campaign.
“We have a real epidemic going on our streets. You know, we’re losing people left and right. Even just this morning, there was a fatal accident on 35 with someone under the influence. It happens all day, every single day in the state of Texas,” said Erin Crawford-Bower, a survivor and advocate.
For Crawford-Bower, the campaign is personal and it’s a subject she approaches with a lot of passion.
“The reason that we’re so passionate about it is I actually lost my mother and my father when I was six months old,” Crawford-Bower said.
Erin was in a car crash with her parents in the summer of 1985. A drunken driver crashed into their car instantly killing her parents. Though her older brother, Guy, was riding home separately that night, Erin said the drunken driver took more than just her parents.
“You know, even though I say he wasn’t in the car that night, the person that he was supposed to be, he never got to be that person because of a drunk driver and so, it just took him 35 years, 11 months, and 18 days for him, to just succumbed to his injuries and finally take his own life because he was so devastated by it last summer,” Crawford-Bower said.
Though it’s been over 30 years since the deadly crash that claimed her parents’ lives, traffic crash deaths still hit home for Bower.
“It absolutely breaks my heart because we see it every single day on the news, you know, what’s going on. And the problem is, too, is people aren’t taking accountability for their actions and realizing that there are so many other options out there,” Crawford-Bower said.
TxDOT officials said 23% of all traffic crash deaths in Texas involved drunken driving. They say those crashes killed 98 people and seriously injured 236 others in 2021.
Last year in San Antonio, there were 38,464 crashes, resulting in 184 deaths and 626 serious injuries, according to TXDOT. During the holiday season in 2021, there were 150 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes resulting in six deaths and 10 serious injuries.
This year, the “Drive Sober, No Regrets” campaign hopes to reduce and or prevent traffic-related deaths. Crawford-Bower said drivers under the influence don’t have the wherewithal to realize that you might not really be okay to drive.
“People are making decisions, even only after a couple of drinks, and then literally decimating someone’s life. And so we try to make sure that people know that the resources are out there. You know, call a friend, say a couple of extra hours sober up before you get behind the wheel, because you could in an instant lose everything that you have,” Crawford-Bower said.
TxDOT encourages everyone to visit SoberRides.org to learn about the consequences of driving impaired and tips to finding a sober ride home. Follow the hashtag #DriveSoberNoRegrets to keep up with the campaign on social media.