AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Texas Department of Transportation has launched its new campaign to keep people from drinking and driving during the Fourth of July weekend, introduced its Faces of Drunk Driving safety campaign on Tuesday.
The department says while the numbers are sobering, putting a face with it makes it more memorable to remind people to drive sober.
On the lawn of the Long Center, 1,170 Texas flags were placed to represent the number of people that were killed in 2012 by a drunk driver.
Throughout July, TxDOT will go across the state hosting events to advocate safety, especially during Independence Day weekend.
2012 Alcohol-related crashes, injures and deaths in Texas
- 1,170 Killed in an alcohol related crash
- 25,755 alcohol related crashes
- 9,458 people seriously injured
TxDOT also released a short movie about a 9-year-old girl, Xitclalli "Chilli" Vasquez, who was hit by a drunk driver in Fort Worth on July 9, 2011. The accident happened three days before her eighth birthday, and now she is paralyzed from the waist down.
A family from Cypress, near Houston, also shared their story Tuesday after their son was killed by a drunk driver two years ago. Aaron Pennywell, 20, was on his way to get something to eat when his Mustang was T-boned by a drunk driver going 50 mph.
"If there's any emotions that haven't been named yet, we've had them," said Dennis Pennywell, Aaron's father. "I try to work and try not to think about it, but sometimes during the day you never know when or why something will hit you and I will usually go to the bathroom, or take a walk outside."
Pennywell and his wife, Kae, talk to high school and college students, along with safety advocates, across the state. They tow their son's crushed Mustang on the hitch of their truck to show people what could happen if they get behind the wheel drunk.
"I want them to be responsible and make the choice to get someone to drive them, stay the night where they are, or call a cab," said Kae, an elementary school physical education teacher. "It's tough, I mean usually in the mornings going to school. I have a pair of shoes in my bathroom that are Aaron's, he took them off Friday night and I can't move them yet."
"Law enforcement around Texas will conduct a 'No Refusal' initiative over the Independence Day weekend," explained TxDOT in a press release. Officers will be able to pull over suspected drunk drivers and require them to provide a breath or blood sample.
"It can happen to you," Kae said. "We never thought we would we would always have our two sons, we never thought we would be in this club of parents who have lost their kids to drunk driving.
"We're trying to get the word out."
A man convicted 21 years ago for engaging in ritual child abuse was released Thursday after the DA's office agreed the only physical evidence against him was faulty.
A teacher from Austin was shot and killed while jogging in Benghazi, Libyan officials confirmed Thursday.
Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice are unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
Several organizations on Thursday called for an end to the use of stun guns in schools, saying the incident Cedar Creek High School last month shows the dangers of such devices.
The expected winter weather has delayed initial construction work on MoPac until the rain and cold temperatures pass through.
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.