AUSTIN (KXAN) — Spring break is an especially dangerous and deadly period on Texas roads. When you add in SXSW events and the Austin Rodeo, you’ve got an even bigger recipe for disaster. That’s why the Texas Department of Transportation is starting a DWI campaign Wednesday to keep young, impaired drivers off the road. The message: “DWI Hangovers don’t go away.”
To spread the message, TxDOT crews will be roaming around Downtown Austin on Segways. Last year in Austin, there were 644 impaired-driving crashes involving young drivers — ages 17-34 who were under the influence of alcohol. Those crashes resulted in 35 serious injuries and seven deaths.
Over the course of spring break alone last year, Texas saw more than 30 deaths as a result of drinking and driving. TxDOT officials are hoping by using the Segways, they can access crowds easier to spread the word.
“Using the Segways allows us to go right to them — into the Warehouse District, into the party areas, into the SXSW party areas — and talk to them and share these messages about drinking and driving and the dangers of it and urge them to make plans for safe partying events,” said Mark Cross, TxDOT information specialist.
Starting Thursday, police agencies in Travis and Williamson counties will join Austin police to track down potential drunk drivers. It’s part of APD’s No Refusal initiative, which runs nonstop Thursday night through Sunday morning. During this operation, if drivers refuse to give a breath sample, police can get a warrant and test your blood alcohol level.