AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Transportation Department is reminding residents not to drink or drive distracted this holiday season — and it’s captured some people’s attention.
The department tweeted parody lyrics set to the tune of the Christmas classic “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” that aimed to highlight the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.
I saw mommy killing Santa Claus He disappeared under the truck last night
She didn’t see him cross the street, now his body’s a red streak
She was reading on her phone the latest Tweet.
Then I saw EMS putting Santa Claus
Underneath a sheet so snowy white
Oh, what a sad day it has been With distraction yet again And Mommy killing Santa Claus last night
Drive safe for the holidays and put distractions away before you drive.Austin Transportation Department
The responses were mixed, with some saying there were too many cars and crashes on roadways and this was a necessary method, while others said it was “a little dark after a rough year for street fatalities.” It also captured the attention of two city council members, Vanessa Fuentes and Mackenzie Kelly.
Fuentes quote-tweeted the post with only one word: “Whoa.” Meanwhile, Kelly wrote, “I’ve heard concerns regarding the messaging from this account and I’ve reached out to the city managers office for further information related to messaging from official city accounts.”
In an email to KXAN, an ATD spokesperson cited estimates from the National Security Council, which anticipates 346 people might die on U.S. roads this holiday weekend due to impaired driving.
“We hope the social media posts encourage the community to make good choices on the road this holiday season by planning a safe ride home and avoiding distractions,” the spokesperson said. They added the department has already run two additional social media posts this week, with two more planned for Thursday and Friday.
ATD officials added the department ran a series of focus groups this year to evaluate effective messaging and determine what might change people’s driving behaviors. The focus groups centered on the department’s target audience of people most impacted by traffic crashes — men ages 18-35.
“In these focus groups we heard repeatedly that messaging that was more graphic and that had a ‘shock’ factor was most likely to influence driving behaviors,” the spokesperson added. “In this series of posts, we are continuing to focus on the prime behaviors that cause severe crashes — speed, distraction, intoxication and failing to yield — and we hope the messaging will raise awareness in the community to travel safely this holiday season.”
ATD officials added safety awareness and education resources are some of the focuses of the city’s Vision Zero program, aimed at reducing traffic-related deaths on Austin roadways. Austin police will be patrolling for impaired drivers this season through its No Refusal Initiative, effective through Jan. 1.