AUSTIN, Texas - TxDOT created and hosted a mobile carnival-like "Drive Sober, No Regrets" campaign at a south Austin Walmart on Thursday.
"No, it's not about selling anything," said David Shepherd with Walmart. "I know people think we're all about sales, which we are, but we still want you to get to the store safely, get home safely when our associates get to work safely, get home safely. And they can't do that with other people out there drinking and driving on the road."
To help get that message across, TxDOT created a mobile carnival-like "Drive Sober" display.
"We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, but we also want them to act responsibly," said Letty von Rossum, TxDOT’s Behavioral Traffic Safety Section Director.
The traveling display included a simulator to demonstrate how difficult it is to control a vehicle while intoxicated.
"We're always looking for new approaches to reach our audience, our target audience," said TxDOT marketing team member Ruby Martinez. "Whether this is something we use next year, maybe something new next year, but it's always looking at our audience and what could actually resonate with them. And so, we think that this vintage trailer could possibly do that for us this year."
The TxDOT display will make stops in 11 cities across Texas between November 30 and December 16. Besides Austin, the display will stop in Bryan/College Station, El Paso, Forth Worth, Hidalgo, Houston, Lubbock, Odessa, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.
The "Drive Sober, No Regrets" campaign will be followed by another drunk driving campaign, the annual crackdown.
"Starting December 13 through January 1, law enforcement across the state will be stepping up enforcement to immediately stop drivers who have been drinking," said Cathy Kratz, the Traffic Safety Division Deputy Director at TxDOT.
For Austin, this fun and games approach comes with serious numbers. According to APD, last year, Austin had 862 alcohol-related traffic crashes, which resulted in 27 deaths and 32 serious injuries.
Statewide, according to TxDOT, 1,246 people were killed.
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Those kinds of numbers brought Kandra Sellers to the launch as a featured speaker.
"A drunk driver changed my life forever," said Sellers.
Sellers' son, Casey Clark, was killed in 2021. It happened near Lubbock, and was caused by a habitual offender.
"There's a weakness in the legislation for drunk driving laws," Sellers said. "But right now, I want to focus on this Drive Sober, No Regrets campaign."
TxDOT's new approach, Sellers agreed, is different.
"I think it is the way to go. I think that it reaches a broader audience, maybe a younger crowd or just a different crowd, because it's definitely different," Sellers said. "I think it's great."
The Drive Sober, No Regrets campaign is not limited to that carnival trailer. Over the next several weeks, TxDOT will broadcast its message on TV, radio and online. Roadside billboards will also be going up along with displays at bars, restaurants, and convenience stores.