Family Loses Daughter to Drunk Driver, Shares Story to Spare Others from Heartbreak During Holidays

TxDOT’s ‘Plan While You Can’ campaign contributes to a 9-percent
decrease in alcohol-related traffic fatalities

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Stephens family is planning their annual holiday feast, but this
year, one seat will remain empty. Their daughter Jade was killed when a
drunk driver ran a stop sign and T-boned their car, just days before her
10th birthday.

“We miss her every day, but we feel the loss of her presence
particularly around the holidays,” said Eric Stephens, Jade’s father.
“We miss her joy, wit and infectious laugh. No other family should
experience a loss like ours due to drinking and driving. All it takes is
planning ahead for a sober ride.”

The Stephens family is sharing Jade’s story through the Texas Department
of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign to communicate the
devastating consequences of drinking and driving. The goal is to save
lives and decrease alcohol-related crashes, with special emphasis during
the holidays when alcohol consumption is more prevalent.

As a combined result of the “Plan While You Can” campaign and the
efforts of many state and local community partners, including law
enforcement, Texas experienced a 9-percent decrease in alcohol-related
traffic fatalities during last year’s holiday season (Dec. 1, 2015 –
Jan. 1, 2016) compared to the previous holiday season. Still, during
last year’s holiday season, there were 2,374 alcohol-related crashes in
Texas, resulting in 102 fatalities and 205 serious injuries.

“We are saving lives through our education efforts and by sharing
compelling stories from families who have lost loved ones,” said TxDOT
Executive Director James Bass. “However, one life lost is one too many.
Finding a sober ride is easy and it can save you from being arrested or
from injuring or killing yourself or others. By making an effort to plan
ahead for a sober ride, together, we can continue to save lives.”

The “Plan While You Can” campaign includes a statewide tour featuring an interactive
dodgeball
game, where participants dodge “snowballs” as virtual
drinks are added to the screen. As more drinks are added, the players’
on-screen avatars respond more slowly to players’ movements.
Participants experience how drinking can slow their reaction times.

As always, TxDOT strongly encourages everyone to plan for a sober ride
before going out. Visit SoberRides.org to find alternatives to drinking
and driving, such as:

  • Calling a taxi or using a transportation app on your smartphone.
  • Using mass transit.
  • Asking a sober friend or family member for a ride home.
  • Spending the night.

For more information, contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov
or (512) 463-8700.

The information contained in this report represents reportable data
collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). This
information was received and processed by the department as of Nov. 1,
2016.

The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining
80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail, and public
transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 12,000 employees are
committed to working with others to provide safe and reliable
transportation solutions for Texas by maintaining a safe system,
addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities, and being a
Best-in-Class state agency. Find out more at txdot.gov.
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Contacts

TxDOT
David Glessner, 512-936-1906
David.Glessner@txdot.gov

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