TxDOT's 'Faces' campaign to show personal impact of drunk driving

Published: Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:49 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM CDT
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Chilli Vasquez (Source: TxDOT)
Chilli Vasquez (Source: TxDOT)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As the fourth of July holiday approaches, one Texas agency is going to great lengths to share how drunk driving impacts people.

With the help of DWI crash victims, TxDOT is hosting a "Faces of Drunk Driving" campaign.

Nearly 1,200 people were killed and more than 9,400 people were seriously injured in alcohol-related crashes in Texas in 2012, and TxDOT officials say they want to make people aware of how those crashes affect lives.

"Texas leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities and drunk driving crashes, so you know, this is a problem that all of us face every day, and I think one of the key messages of this program is to say, even if you're doing everything right, you can still be a victim of drunk driving," said Larry Krantz, the spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation - Tyler District.

TxDOT says the fourth of July is one of the deadliest times of year on Texas's roadways. Last year, there were 133 alcohol-related crashes over the holiday.

TxDOT officials say it's important to remember that the real victims of drunk driving aren't the people who drive drunk; they are the people whose lives are changed in a split-second because someone else decided to drive drunk.

"These are people who have been hit by drunk drivers, and the idea is to show that the pain that they've suffered is real and that this can happen to you out on the road, whether you are the intoxicated driver or you are the person who has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Krantz.

At the center of the campaign is 9-year old Chilli Vasquez of Fort Worth. Chilli was hit by a drunk driver on July 9, 2011, just three days before her eighth birthday. Now she's paralyzed from the chest down.

"I think that takes a minute to kind of set in, the fact that you're doing everything right and your world still comes to a screeching halt because you're paralyzed or your child dies or your family is killed and you're not there because of being hit by a drunk driver," Krantz said. "This is real. These things can happen. They do happen."

TxDOT officials say the most important thing you can do over the holiday and long weekend is plan for a designated driver or for a safe way home if you're planning to drink.

The "Faces of Drunk Driving" campaign will last through the month of July. Families of drunk-driving victims will join safety advocates and law enforcement officers to share their stories at events across the state.

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