Mothers Against Drunk Driving were joined by Hartford city officials, police and AAA to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving at a news conference on Tuesday morning.
The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 3,996 people have been killed in December crashes involving drunk drivers since 2012. Last, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 781 people died in December after a crash involving a drunk driver.
Family and friends of those who lost their lives in drunk driving crashes shared a message.
"This was my younger daughter Alexa. She was 17-years-old and she was killed in a drunk driving crash in 2010," Alexa's mother Tina Crosby said.
Alexa Crosby was on target to graduate early from Suffield High School and go to Baypath College for Nursing. She was killed when the driver of a jeep she was in crossed in front of a tractor trailer on Interstate 91 in Enfield in 2010.
"Every day is a struggle, I pray that everyone makes the right choices this holiday season and that we don't have another fatality due to drunk driving," Tina Crosby said.
MADD Program Manager Johanna Krebs said December is "the time of year where MADD launches it's time went on for safety campaign."
"This is a campaign that reminds people to designate a sober non-drinking driver," Krebs said.
A news conference, which was outside of Black Eyed Sally’s on Tuesday morning, focused on holiday safety.
“This is a season for celebrating with friends and family and we encourage folks to enjoy the great food and drink the Capital City has to offer – safely, responsibly, and with a plan," Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement on Tuesday. “It’s never been easier to get home safely, and I encourage everyone who plans on drinking to make a plan to get home ahead of time. I’m glad to join Uber, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the State Department of Transportation, American Medical Response, Hoffman Auto Group, and Black-Eyed Sally’s as we come together to help promote safe, holiday fun and prevent tragic accidents.”
Speakers from a number of organizations "outlined the efforts being taken by their organizations to prevent drunk driving fatalities, reviewed the consequences of being irresponsible behind the wheel, and reminded residents of existing resources to prevent needing to drive while impaired."
“The holidays are a special time of year for millions of Americans, both across the nation and here in Connecticut,” MADD Connecticut Executive Director Janice Heggie Margolis said in a statement on Tuesday. “Yet each year, we encounter people who make poor decisions behind the wheel - sometimes with deadly consequences. MADD is here to remind people to be especially responsible during the holidays, and always get a driver if you’re going to be out celebrating..”
Bronin and MADD were joined by Uber Connecticut, the Hartford Police Department, the Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office, Hoffman Auto Group, American Medical Response and AAA Northeast. Police said there is no excuse for drivers if they get pulled over drunk driving when there is public transportation and Uber.
“There is never an excuse to get behind the wheel after drinking, and we are proud to be part of such a large effort to reiterate this message,” Matt Powers, who is the general manager of Uber Connecticut, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Drunk driving is a tragedy that destroys lives throughout the entire year, but the holidays often pose a unique challenge to prevent senseless deaths. As people gather with their friends and family in the coming weeks, we remind them to make responsible decisions and get a ride instead of drive, if they’ve been drinking.”
On Nov. 12, 70-year-old Sofia Santiago was put in a coma after being hit by an alleged drunk driver while moving her car on Park Street. Police said 35-year-old Hartford resident Carlos Roman was originally charged with OUI, but Santiago later died.
"This week the driver was arrested for drunk driving and we are increasing the charges to manslaughter second and others as a result of the toxicology results we got back," Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley said.
Police said they are working with MADD in the prosecution process.
"This is a time to celebrate with friends and family, it's a time to come down to Hartford and enjoy some great food and drink at great places like Black Eyed Sally's and all the other great restaurants and bars but it's time to do it safely and responsibly," Bronin said.
About 90 percent of Hartford Police DUI enforcement is funded through the Department of Transportation. They will be out in force these next couple of weeks.
Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have had a partnership in Connecticut since 2014. For more information on the Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnership, click here.
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