With temperatures hovering right around the freezing mark Friday morning, there weren’t many takers on the chance to climb inside the TxDOT snowplow parked outside the Texas Information and Welcome Center north of Gainesville.
But inside where a fire and hot coffee kept visitors warm, Carlos and Brenda Carriage of Kansas donned goggles to simulate drunk driving and tried their luck at the DWI Toss Test. After missing the bean bag toss from a couple of feet away, Carlos Carriage gave the Seasons Spinning wheel a twirl where he could have landed on fines up to $17,000, go to jail or lose your license. Instead, he was a winner landing on planned for a designated driver.
“Nationally, traffic fatalities are going up, but last year, this campaign helped reduce fatalities across Texas by about 9 percent,” said Tish Beaver, traffic safety specialist with the Texas Department of Transportation. “We know alcohol is a part of a lot of folks holiday plans. We just want them to plan ahead.”
The program was part of a winter safety fair hosted by TxDOT’s Wichita Falls District. It included information from the Gainesville Fire-Rescue Department, a Texas Safety Patrol trooper and KXII meteorologist Tom Hale.
According to Adèle Lewis, public information officer for the Wichita Falls District, the event was both to provide public safety information but also to let visitors know about increase efforts made by TxDOT and the Department of Public Safety during the holidays.
About 255,000 motorists pass through the information city just south of the Oklahoma border on Interstate 35, according to officials with the facility.