What do you get when you combine a yellow cab with a police squad car?
At a press event in Austin, TxDOT officials unveiled their newest public education tool: a unique “half and half” vehicle that appears to be a taxi on one end and a patrol car on the other. It’s part of the agency’s annual Labor Day campaign to warn drivers that law enforcement will be out in force to arrest drivers who’ve had too much to drink during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.
Thanks to the support of police departments and sheriff’s offices in communities in Texas with a high incidence of alcohol-related fatalities, actual police cars are being turned into mobile billboards reminding drivers to choose their ride: either by calling a cab, finding a sober ride home or letting officers provide a ride—to jail.
From August 21st to September 7th, law enforcement statewide will be working overtime to find and arrest drunk drivers. “Every hour, two Texans are killed or injured in an alcohol-related traffic crash,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s Interim Traffic Operations Director. “We hope by supporting this special stepped-up enforcement effort and encouraging drivers to plan ahead to get home safely, we can make the roads safer for everyone this Labor Day.” In 2007, 1,672 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Texas.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Yellow Cab and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies are participating in the annual Drink, Drive, Go to Jail campaign.“The price of a cab ride pales in comparison to the hefty fines, attorney fees and other cost associated with being arrested for driving while intoxicated,” said DPS Assistant Director of Texas Highway Patrol David Baker.
Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for as long as a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Safety officials say other costs associated with a drunk driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases and other expenses.
For more information, contact Penny Mason in TxDOT’s Public Information Office at (512) 463-2406.