AUSTIN – Sean Carter looks out onto a sea of high school students before beginning his speech. Most of these students likely share the same dreams Sean once had — to have a successful career and a family. The life Sean dreamed about abruptly ended in 2005 when he got into a truck driven by a friend who had been drinking. The driver caused the truck to hydroplane, striking a tree and causing Sean to suffer a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to walk or talk.
“I was not born needing a wheelchair,” Sean told the students through an iPad that speaks the words he types. “The choices I made put me here. For 12 years, I’ve lived with the consequences of my choices. Nothing can undo my decision to ride with a drunk driver, and despite how much I improve, I will never escape those consequences.”
Sean tells his compelling story to students across the country, hopeful that they will not make the same mistake. He is also sharing his story through the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign, which aims to save lives by decreasing alcohol-related crashes leading up to and beyond the Labor Day holiday weekend. In 2016, there were 344 alcohol-related crashes in Texas during the Labor Day holiday weekend,* resulting in 12 fatalities and 39 serious injuries.
“We appreciate Sean sharing his story with others, and we wish him continued luck on his tremendous efforts to recover from the terrible incident,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “We need to remember that each time someone dies or is seriously injured on our roadways, it’s someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, or friend. We hope Sean’s story will encourage safe driving behaviors so that we can all see fewer deaths on our roadways.”
The “Plan While You Can” campaign includes a statewide tour featuring an interactive dodgeball game where participants avoid incoming “dodgeballs” as the screen adds virtual drinks. The more drinks, participants experience how drinking can slow their reaction times as on-screen avatars begin responding more slowly to their players’ movements.
Drivers under the influence of alcohol can face up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time and loss of their license. As always, TxDOT strongly encourages everyone to plan for a sober ride before going out. Visit SoberRides.org to find alternatives to drinking and driving, such as:
Designating a sober driver.
Contacting a cab or ride-share service.
Using mass transit.
Asking a sober friend or family member for a ride home.
Spending the night.