The Texas Department of Transportation is in the middle of an advertising campaign geared at curbing holiday drinking and driving. The campaign uses billboards and other items that feature a picture of Santa with the text "Santa is coming to town. Please don't hit him. Don't drink and drive."
Newschannel 6 wanted to know if the campaign is working. TxDot Public Information Officer Adele Lewis says they are. "The numbers don't lie; they give us a real good picture of what's going on around the state. In 2008, for instance we had 39,000 traffic accidents in December; of that, 20,000 people were injured and 313 were killed in. In December 2009 we only had 240 deaths," said Lewis.
Lewis says there are many things that could lead to a spike in December. "This is a very critical time during the holidays, we have a lot more drinking going on, a lot more people traveling across the country, distracted driving. There are a lot of other reasons why we have an increase in fatalities and crashes at this time of the year," she said.
Billboards are only a part of the equation, though. TxDOT is taking the message to the Internet in hopes of reaching a younger audience. "Every medium we use has its own demographic. With the facebook and MySpace we are able to reach a younger audience," said Lewis.
For last year's campaign, the agency produced a video featuring Santa's reindeer under the influence of alcohol. In the video, Santa taps a string of flying cartoon taxicabs to pull his sleigh after discovering the drunken Donner and blitzed Blitzen. The ad earned several national awards for its message.
On December 20th, the agency is set to release this year's version of the video. Lewis says to expect a similar plot, but this time revolving around the workshop elves. You can view the video on the Santa in Texas facebook page.