Every year, countless American families are affected by drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is using the month of April to spread awareness about how to talk to your children about driving while intoxicated.
In 2014, more than a million drivers were arrested across the country for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The year before, a then Austin-area high school senior almost lost her life to one.
“It was just a normal day. I was driving, my mom was in the passenger seat, we were ready to go home,” Ann Romero remembers.
On November 6, 2013, Romero and her mom were wrapping up a visit to the optometrist. They were on their home on Highway 290 when everything changed.
“All the sudden I wake up at like 10 o'clock kind of confused in the hospital. I don't remember anything,” Romero says.
A driver, who police say was under the influence of drugs, crossed the double yellow lines and into oncoming traffic and hit Romero’s car head on.
The driver was seriously hurt and died later at the hospital. Romero and her mother were also hospitalized.
“My femurs were fractured. I broke my right foot. I fractured my c1 collar neck bone and I had internal bleeding,” Romero says.
Romero was wheelchair bound for two months. She had physical therapy to learn how to walk again and she missed half of her senior year of high school.
The graphic pictures of her car after the accident are a terrible reminder of how close of a call it really was.
“It actually took like a month for me to see those pictures because I didn't want to see them in the beginning. It just made me really sad but at the same time thankful that I was still here today,” Romero says.
It’s accidents like the one Romero was a victim of that Raul Vasquez, a Program Specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, works to prevent. MADD is calling on all parents to talk to their children about driving drunk or intoxicated.
“We really just want to start that conversation to lower the national death toll. It's at 4,700 teens that die per year because of alcohol related fatalities,” Vasquez says.
Vasquez says that parents are the most influential people in their children’s lives and they want parents to remind them into adulthood that drunk driving is never the answer.
“There's so many options out there for us to get home safely and there is absolutely no reason for us to get behind the wheel and drive just because we don't want to leave our car somewhere,” Vasquez says. “Not only does it affect the drivers in those situations, but it affects the families, it affects the friends of those individuals.”
Most of Romero’s injuries have healed but she sometimes still has pain in her legs. Despite that Romero says she’s happy to be alive. She’s a student at Texas State and is working on starting her own fashion blog.
Romero says she is using this life changing experience as a way to get to people think twice before driving intoxicated.
“It's really not worth it because you really don't want to risk causing harm to yourself or someone else and risk families in pain,” Romero says.
MADD has printouts on its website to walk you through how to talk to your children about the dangers of driving and driving. You can that here.