But, state officials don't want this lower number to put Texans at ease. Law enforcement will still work thousands of overtime hours this month to crack down on drinking and driving during the holiday. The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." campaign began August 17 and runs through Labor Day.
Seven people died in alcohol-related crashes last year during the Labor Day holiday period in Texas. The fatality numbers for the previous seven Labor Day holiday periods were all in double digits. More alcohol-related crashes occur between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. than in any other hour of the day, and more crashes happen on Saturday than on any other day of the week. So, drivers are urged to realize that no one is immune to the effects of alcohol, and to always seek a sober ride home.
"Labor Day is the traditional end of summer celebration. In Texas, 34 percent of all alcohol-related fatal crashes happen during the summer," said Carol T. Rawson, TxDOT's Traffic Operations Division Director. "Three hundred sixty-six people died during the months of May through August last year in alcohol-related crashes. That's nothing to celebrate, and law enforcement will be out in force as part of the Drink. Drive. Go to Jail. stepped-up enforcement effort and public awareness campaign."
For the first time, TxDOT is asking people to pledge to choose a safe ride home by texting CHOOSE to 67664. Texans who make the pledge are entered to win a donated Honda Ruckus scooter and helmet.
Texas is part of the Labor Day nationwide impaired driving crackdown coordinated and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Simulated Jail Cell Rolling Across Texas
Convicted drunk drivers could spend up to $17,000 for bail, fines, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, insurance increases and other expenses.
To drive the message home, a mobile simulated jail cell will be driven around Texas to attract attention to the legal and social consequences of drinking and driving. At public events leading up to Labor Day, people will be invited to climb into the mobile simulated jail cell and complete a DWI knowledge quiz before being released. The public events are listed at TexasDWI.org.
Bars and restaurants in major markets are also participating in the campaign by allowing TxDOT to install "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." bathroom mirror clings that look like mug shot backgrounds.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are joining TxDOT and local law enforcement partners for the "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." campaign.