AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to a recent announcement from the Texas Department of Transportation, a new report ranked Amarillo as third in Texas for cities with the most fatality and serious-injury-related crashes caused in crashes due to alcohol-impaired driving.
The top five Texas cities with the most fatality and serious-injury crashes caused by alcohol, according to TxDOT, include:
TxDOT said that from 2020-2022, Amarillo averaged 244 alcohol-impaired car crashes, with six fatalities and 129 injuries per year.
“Amarillo is number three in the state of Texas,” said Jason Britsch, Public Information Officer for TxDOT Amarillo District. “Usually, when you’re in the top five or something in the state, it’s usually a good thing. But when it comes to something like this, this is something you don’t want to be anywhere near top five, top ten, top fifteen, top fifty, you know.”
In 2022, TxDOT said that 2,936 alcohol-related crashes were reported in Texas between 2 a.m. to 2:59 a.m., which is more than any other hour of the day. Alcohol-related crashes were reported more on Saturday than any other day of the week.
“That is just absolutely way too high,” said Britsch, “And the saddest thing about all of that is that since they are alcohol-related, they’re preventable. That’s the saddest thing about it is they these numbers have no business being as high as they are.”
Britsch told MyHighPlains.com that they want people to have a good time, but to do so responsibly. Meanwhile, TxDOT also advised on efforts it is making to improve safety on the roads and in local driving habits.
“While I strongly dislike that Amarillo is ranked in the top five, I am excited to know that the recently-developed “Victim Impact Panel” that our coalition has formed, will be effective and will reduce impaired driving, thereby reducing our rank,” says Traffic Safety Specialist LaViza Matthews.
Matthews said the Victim Impact Group involves DUI offenders listening to a victim’s story about how their life was affected negatively by alcohol-impaired driving. Matthews says though there have only been two classes, that it will continue to grow and make a positive impact on these people’s lives.
“Our first class had four offenders attend and the second one had seven,” said Matthews, “There’s a follow-up with the offender after six months to see if attitudes have changed.”
The Victim Impact Panel joins other Amarillo-area initiatives against drunk driving, including organizations such as Andrea’s Project, a nonprofit organization working to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. While Amarillo’s ranking third on the list is an improvement from its second-place rank in 2021, officials and organizations have continued to raise concerns and work to improve those numbers.
TxDOT noted that regarding the financial and legal impacts on a person’s life, a first-time DWI offense in Texas could include:
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Between three and 180 days in jail
- Up to one year driver’s license suspension
- $9,400 in attorney fees
- Up to $1,000 in bail costs
- $200 in car impound and towing fees
- $100 in car storage fees
- $1,400 for 21-month use of Ignition Interlock Device
- Up to $500 in court costs
- Between $70-$200 for an alcohol education course
- Increase in car insurance
- Loss of or difficulty finding employment
Those planning on participating in an activity that involves alcohol were advised by TxDOT to plan ahead. For example, instead of driving after drinking, TxDOT suggested:
- Calling a cab or ride-sharing service
- Designating a sober driver before going out
- Spending the night
- Using public transportation
TxDOT offered those sets of tips as part of its “Drive Sober. No Regrets.” campaign, part of its ongoing effort to end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways and encourage safer choices behind the wheel.