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Holiday travelers urged to abstain from alcohol, drugs
(12-20-01)

The Southwest Texas Addiction & Research Technology (START) Center, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is dedicated to reducing the number of lives lost to alcohol and drugs — including drug-related fatalities on the nation's roadways. More than 16,000 people died last year nationwide in accidents involving impaired drivers.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. As a public service, START Center staff members have distributed red ribbons and brochures on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. The MADD ribbons were distributed to employees and students at the Health Science Center and at Mary Burns Michael Elementary School, part of the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio.

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, joins the START Center's director, Bankole A. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., in asking all South Texans to spread the word that alcohol, drugs and driving don't mix, especially at the holidays. "Our aim at the START Center is to increase the frequency and reach of our lifesaving messages throughout the San Antonio area during the holiday season," Dr. Johnson said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation sponsor National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. The NHTSA reports that impaired driving-related deaths increased from 15,786 in 1999 to 16,653 in 2000.

"The mission of the START Center and the Impaired Driving Division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to develop partnerships in order to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related health care and economic costs resulting from impaired driving from alcohol and other drugs," Dr. Johnson said.

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas