Don't Do It

Easy on the eggnog: TxDot's Holiday P.A.S.S. program asks you to be a pal and a designated driver

Easy on the eggnog: TxDot's Holiday P.A.S.S. program asks you to be a pal and a designated driver

Austin Photo Set: News__PASS_Aleks_Dec2012

It's not always easy to be the designated driver — there’s a different kind of frustration that comes from having decided to be stone cold sober to help and schlep home your inebriated friends. That frustration is too often laced with irony, not without the thought, “I’m going to need a drink to get through taking care of these drunk people.”

 “Safety is a top priority for us at TxDOT and we’re asking Texans to make a commitment to safe, sober driving this holiday season,” said John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director.

But stick with it, designated drivers; your friends and family owe you a nice tall one next time, when they’re driving.

The CDC estimates that 30 people die in car crashes that involve a driver impaired by alcohol each day, which equates to one every 48 minutes. Young people, motorcyclists and people with previous impaired driving infractions are most at risk at being involved in a crash.

The holiday season presents its own special brand of drinking and driving problems, and in Texas, the picture isn’t any less grim: TxDOT reports that from December 1, 2011 to January 1, 2011, there were 2,462 alcohol-related motor accidents, resulting in 842 serious injuries and 78 fatalities.

To curb these statistics, TxDOT has launched its Holiday P.A.S.S. (Person Appointed to Stay Sober) campaign, with a new message: "Sober drivers make great gifts." This season, TxDot has created “gift certificates” for people to hand out to friends and family, offering themselves as designated drivers.

“Safety is a top priority for us at TxDOT and we’re asking Texans to make a commitment to safe, sober driving this holiday season,” said John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director in a statement.

The campaign focuses on planning ahead for usually heavy-drinking nights like New Year’s Eve, but it also highlights some creative non-alcoholic versions of holiday drinks. Peche and Cherry Street owner Rob Pete, a mixologist, created four alcohol-free drinks — Sober Snowman and Yule Be Safe Sipper included — just for the Holiday P.A.S.S. initiative.

So gird your loins, steel yourself and keep your camera handy this holiday weekend, designated drivers. You may not be able drinking, but you’re saving lives (yourself included), and giving yourself the prime opportunity for documenting plenty of foolishness; they’ll be glad you were just taking photos in the morning.