Sean Carter’s ability to speak was taken from him more than 15 years ago, when he was a college junior and went out drinking with friends. He knew he was in no condition to drive home – but neither was the buddy who gave him a ride. Without a plan for a sober ride, the drunk driver crashed the truck, leaving Sean with a traumatic brain injury and unable to walk or talk.
Today, despite his inability to speak on his own, Sean’s voice via his story is saving lives. Sean has traveled the country sharing his experience through an iPad that speaks the words he types. In the current environment of social distancing, he’s still working to share the message virtually. Since his crash, he’s shared the story with more than 375,000 people of how a drunk driver forever changed his life.
“I made the bad decision to drink without planning for a safe ride home,” Sean shared. “That fateful decision to get into a truck with a drunk driver made every goal I ever set for myself impossible. My hope is that drivers understand the consequences of drinking and driving, and make a different decision — to plan for a sober ride before going out.”
Sean and his mom, Jenny, are sharing his journey through the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign, which works to save lives and decrease impaired driving crashes by encouraging drivers to plan ahead for a sober ride before drinking alcohol.
“The crash is something Sean still deals with every day of his life,” Jenny said. “As his caretaker, I deal with the consequences of that bad decision, too. Families and individuals need to know that choosing to drink and drive can have lasting, life-altering effects that go beyond just the people directly involved in the crash.”
Last year, there were 24,666 DUI-alcohol related crashes in Texas, resulting in 900 fatalities and 2,152 serious injuries. DUI-alcohol related crash fatalities represented 25% of all crash fatalities in Texas in 2019.
The “Plan While You Can” campaign features the Faces of Drunk Driving as a way for victims to share their personal stories through TV public service announcements, social media, digital ads and media interviews.The Faces of Drunk Driving website features Sean’s story, as well as other stories from drunk driving crash victims in Texas.
Driving under the influence of alcohol not only risks death or serious injuries, but it can also be costly. Drivers can face up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time and loss of their driver’s license. Instead of getting behind the wheel if drinking, here are some alternative options:
- Designate a sober driver.
- Contact a cab or ride-share service.
- Use mass transit.
- Spend the night.
Leading up to the July Fourth holiday, even with more people staying home and some businesses being closed due to COVID-19, TxDOT feels this is an important message to share for those who will choose to go out and celebrate. For those who do choose to go out, do not drink and drive and please exercise proper safety practices in public, including wearing a face covering, limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people and social distancing.
“Plan While You Can” is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or call (936) 633-4395.