In response to the number one cause of death in Texas being auto accidents, State Farm Insurance joined forces with Mothers Against Driving to create a week long workshop on drunk driving for students in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week. The program has been taught in more than 300 high schools this week with 3,000 students being taught by MADD and State Farm representatives.
The program is entitled State Farm’s Celebrate My Drive teen driver safety initiative. In Sulphur Springs, MADD East Texas Program Specialist and Development Officer Kelli Martinez and Manager of Victim Services Carol King helped teach the workshop to more than a 1,000 students at Sulphur Springs High School this week. From 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., MADD staff taught a 47-minute course to each class that featured a video of two drunk driving accidents, followed by drunk driving statistics and educational information.
“After the video, we talked about the aftermath of the wreck,” said King. “I really hope they understand the importance of the educational information we are providing the student so that I do not have to help their parents or loved ones if something does happen. I deal with survivors — the parents who have lost their child in a wreck.”
King went on to explain the difficulty parents face while they are in the courtroom. The parents and other survivors will have to relive the experience by seeing the crash photos and personally seeing the offender if he survives the wreck. King emphasized that in a situation where the vehicle might have caught fire, the emotions the survivors go through are indescribable.
“I tell the students that this scenario is something no one wants to put their parents or your little sisters or brothers. Please pay attention to what we are trying to tell you,” she said.
Last year 1,213 deaths in Texas were attributed to drunk driving accidents, and an additional 16,882 alcohol-related crashes with injuries. King and Martinez are not only talking to students about these effects, but are also available with services for victims of driving drunk.
“We provide free services, such as emotional support, funeral arrangements if needed, counselors, impact panels and many other services to help victims of impaired driving accidents. Many people don’t realized that wrecks can be caused not only by alcholol and illegal drugs but prescription medication,” said King. “Many times people do not pay attention to the warning on the back of medication bottles, which can affect their driving ability.”
MADD of East Texas, headquartered in Tyler, is currently trying to branch out further into Hopkins County by implementing Victim Impact Panels to change the perception of repeat offenders. In the program, offenders are faced with people who might have lost everything in an alcohol-related crash.
“A real victim of a impaired driving accident will come and speak to known drunk driving offenders. They have a powerpoint presentation that shows the offenders what their life was like before the accident and how the event changed their lives,” said King.
King went on to say that when a victim talks about who they lost in the accident, the effect on the offenders are typically powerful. “After seeing that what they do affect others, studies have shown that offenders are 33 percent less likely to drive under the influence after attending the study,” said King. MADD East Texas is also asking for volunteers or individuals wanting to start the victim impact pannel can call 903-534-6000 or email King at
. King also said that anyone who is a victim of a drunk driving accident can come to their office at 215 Winchester Drive, Suite 100, inTyler or call 903-534-6000.