Throughout April, Aceable is fundraising for Mothers for Against Drunk Driving, encouraging people to be responsible on the road and help their loved ones get home safe. We spoke to Amber Smith, a 2016 Miss Texas contestant who is running on the platform of drinking and driving awareness. Amber was a passenger in a car that crashed as a result of drunk driving, and she lost a family member because of it. We at Aceable are passionate about teaching young people safe driving habits, so we asked Amber for her advice on talking about the deadly impact of drunk driving.
1. Can you tell us why you’re so passionate about the dangers of drinking and driving?
Ever since I was a little girl I didn’t like drinking and driving. I wouldn’t even let my mom drink a margarita at a restaurant because she had to drive. But after the drunk driving crash that I was involved in on June 10, 2012, I started to realize how dangerous drunk driving really is. My aunt passed away and now I have three amazing little cousins who no longer have a mom due to drunk driving. My mom lost her best friend and sister and my grandparents have to suffer every day because this horrific crash that took their daughter’s life. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this horrible thing that my family and many other families go through every day.
2. What are some preventative strategies you give friends to avoid drunk driving?
First of all they have to listen to me preach to them all the time about the dangers of drunk driving. I also always encourage them to have not one, but two designated drivers, even if they are only a few blocks from their house. I always encourage two people to stay sober and I say two people (I call them sober buddies) because these sober buddies can encourage each other and keep one another entertained while the others are drinking. If one sober buddy decides to drink and tries to hide it you will still have the second sober buddy there. With two sober buddies, if there are a lot of people wanting to leave the party but are too drunk to drive, there are two people to drive them so it won’t take as long and there will be two cars to take them home. If none of that works I would take all car keys and keep them with me until everyone is sober.
3. In what ways can teenagers and young adults encourage their peers not to drink and drive?
Well first of all I try to encourage teens to not drink at all. I also like to give them a glimpse into the future and show them how their lives could turn out if they decide to drive drunk. I show them pictures of crashes that have happened and videos of people whose lives have been ruined due to drunk driving. I tell them how if you get caught driving while drunk you will get a DWI, and that will be on your record forever. I also tell them to think about their loved ones and how they would feel if something happened to them while driving drunk or how the person driving drunk would feel if they hurt/killed an innocent person.
4. How would you respond to younger people who say to themselves, “I know my limits. I’m a great driver, so I can handle driving a little buzzed?”
I usually tell them that there is no such thing as “a little buzzed” because you are still under the influence of alcohol, which means you shouldn’t be driving. People say that they can drive because they are only “a little buzzed,” but every 53 minutes a person is killed or every two minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. It’s because these people thought they were fine to drive too, but they found out the hard way that they weren’t. Buzzed IS drunk and a buzzed person has just as little business behind the wheel as a drunk person.
5. What outside resources can people seek if they know a friend frequently drinks and drives and they want them to stop?
6. Why should people join Aceable’s #53Minutes campaign to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving?
Why not? It’s so easy to take a selfie with 53 in the picture and post it on social media. I did it, and I’m a very busy person, but it only takes about five minutes. Drunk Driving is one of the biggest problems we have in the U.S. right now because people keep making the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol. In the United States, drunk driving deaths have been cut in half since MADD was founded in 1980. If we continue to support MADD we could put an end to drunk driving and there would be no more phone calls or knocks at your door saying that your loved one won’t be coming home tonight.