TxDot Uses Reindeers To Get Out Serious Message

State transportation officials hope a humorous ad campaign will help keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday season.

In TxDot’s animated public service announcement, Santa is none too happy with what he finds in his barn. His reindeer are throwing back beers and martinis and flirting under the mistletoe. So after getting hit in the nose with a flying champagne cork St. Nick opts for a fleet of taxis to pull his sleigh.

“These campaigns are important because they serve as reminders to motorists to let then know there are other options.”

That’s TxDot’s Deirdrea Samuels, who says the light-hearted TV spots drive home a serious message amid dire statistics. 

U.S. Department of Transportation figures show Texas far outpaces other states in the number of drunk-driving fatalities.  TxDot says out of the 3,000 people killed on Texas roads in 2010,  over 1,100 died as the result of drunk driving.  Samuels says there’s one day that sticks out in particular.

“On January 1st of last year, on Texas roadways there were 25 fatalities. Seventeen of those were alcohol-related.”

TxDot is hoping to bring down those statistics through its annual holiday anti-drunk driving campaign.  This is the 14th year TxDot has conducted the effort. Samuels says the partying reindeer will appear all over Texas in businesses that serve alcohol.

“We have partnered with the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Petroleum Marketers, the Convenience Store Association, and also restaurants and bars.  And we put things like coasters, mirror decals, even on bathrooms, posters. And we just want people to know, don’t drive if you’re ‘tipsy, buzzed or Blitzen.'”   

Samuels says they’re encouraged by the results of a survey the Texas Transportation Institute conducted last summer. According to the Driver Awareness and Attitudes Survey, Texans are more likely to designate a sober driver, or get a ride home if they’d have too much to drink.  Seventy-five percent of those responding indicated they’d been exposed to an anti-drunk driving message within the past month.

“If you are convicted, a first-time DUI offender can face a fine of up to $2,000.  You’re going to lose your driver’s license for up to a year and you can spend up to 180 days in jail.”

And it doesn’t end there. Samuels says your insurance rates will go up, and there are legal fees and court costs that can turn into thousands of dollars.  You also have to spend a lot of time in court and and at alcohol education classes.

“Who knows how many hours, countless hours you’re wasting when you could have just easily given the key to someone.”



Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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