Posted on October 24, 2014
In what will become a yearly event, 110 professionals gathered for the first Texas Impaired Driving Forum in Austin April 9, joining forces in hopes of battling the more than 7,200 fatal and serious crashes in Texas last year related to alcohol use.
“By working together, we have a much better chance of discovering new ways to decrease the incidence of impaired driving,” Melissa Walden, the forum’s mistress of ceremonies, says. Walden is the program manager of the Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) Planning and Evaluation Program. “The issue of impaired driving is very complex, and that’s why it will take professionals from all the various stakeholder groups to make progress.”
Those attending the forum included law enforcement, educators, prosecutors, researchers and advocacy groups.
“Impaired-driving crashes are entirely preventable,” says Frank Saenz with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). “At TxDOT, we strongly urge drivers to take responsibility when they are behind the wheel. Drinking and driving not only can get you or a loved one killed or in serious trouble, but also can have a devastating impact on other motorists sharing the road. We support the Impaired Driving Forum and its mission to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.”
In her presentation to the forum, Walden illustrated the magnitude of the impaired driving problem in Texas by highlighting the 2013 crash statistics. Fifteen percent of the 7,214 alcohol-related crashes last year resulted in fatalities, which amounts to 1,089 deaths — representing 32 percent of all fatalities.