By CHRIS AGEE
With an annual increase in alcohol-related car crashes across the state, the Texas Department of Transportation warns the period between March and May is the most dangerous time of year on the state’s roadways.
In 2011, TxDOT reports more than a quarter of all crashes involving alcohol occurred during that period, noting spring break and holiday weekends only exacerbate the situation.
About 58 percent of alcohol-related crashes happened during weekends in 2011, the agency reported, and hopes a public safety initiative will help remind drivers that even a few drinks can impair a driver’s ability.
According to TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton, “buzzed” driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
“People often don’t recognize the impact that one or two drinks can have on their ability to operate a vehicle,” he said. “Alcohol slows your reaction time, reduces your ability to properly gauge speed or distance from other objects and makes it difficult for you to focus on the road.”
To help educate the state’s drivers, TxDOT is increasing its efforts to remind motorists to designate a P.A.S.S., or Person Appointed to Stay Sober, whenever they plan to drink.
“It takes less alcohol than you think so don’t take a chance,” Barton said “Always plan ahead for a sober ride home.”
A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows drivers often underestimate their blood alcohol content when drinking and might feel they are capable of driving safely when they are not.
In coordination with the safety initiative, TxDOT will be traveling across the state to conduct demonstrations and offer illustrations showing even a modest amount of alcohol’s effects on the ability to drive.
Additionally, college students will have an opportunity to find out what the view is like from behind bars in an interactive display.
Those interested in obtaining a sober driver are encouraged to visit soberrides.org.