AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — When Rebecca Grimes sets the table during the holiday season, there’s always a missing piece.
Nearly four decades ago in 1982, a drunk driver killed her 18-year-old brother, José “Hector” Martinez, in a head-on crash just before Thanksgiving. The holidays have never been the same.
“Even 30 years since Hector’s crash, we still feel that one empty chair at the table during the holidays,” Rebecca Grimes said. “Drunk drivers affect so many people beyond just those who are in the crash. They have a domino effect — crushing multiple families — and the impact lingers for years, decades beyond the crash.”
Grimes is sharing her story as part of TxDOT’s “Plan While You Can” campaign which urges drivers to make a plan for a sober ride this holiday season.
“Just don’t drink and drive, and don’t risk putting your family or someone else’s through heartache this holiday season,” Grimes said.
In 2018, there were 2,370 DUI-alcohol related crashes in Texas during the holiday season.* Those crashes killed 75 people and seriously injured another 199.
“The bad decision to drink and drive can turn the joy and revelry of the season into tragedy, causing unimaginable heartache for years to come,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. “There’s no excuse: plan ahead and be responsible.”
The “Plan While You Can” campaign will tour the state featuring the “Plan to Win” virtual reality game. The game poses questions related to drinking and driving demonstrating the consequences of getting behind the wheel through an immersive experience.
Driving under the influence of alcohol not only risks death or serious injuries, but it can also be costly. Drivers can face up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time and loss of their driver’s license. Instead of getting behind the wheel, here are some alternative options:
- Designating a sober driver or calling someone for a ride home
- Calling a cab or ride-share service
- Using mass transit
- Spending the night
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)