March 17, 2012: “Dallas Drunk Driver Driving Wrong Way on I-20 Kills Passenger, Critically Injures Another Motorist.”  

March 14, 2012: “Fort Worth Accident Injures Two People In Yet Another DWI.”

These two headlines are as frightening as they are common.  Already April is shaping up to be another deadly month in which individuals in drunken stupors not only cause severe injury to themselves, but also fatally injure unsuspecting victims.

Anna* knows this too well. Her daughter was engaged to be married to Tim, a nice young man. * He had left a party after consuming much liquor, and had obviously showed some signs of alcohol poisoning. Yet, his friends never stopped him when he picked up his keys and got into his car to drive home. He never got home and he never married Anna’s daughter. Tim was killed in a single-car accident. 

Tim becomes part of an unenviable statistics highlighted by a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report in the Austin-American Statesman. More people died on Texas roads than in any other state in the nation in 2009. In fact, Texas not only leads the nation in DWI fatalities, a March 2012 Men’s Health magazine article ranks Dallas drivers as “second-most dangerous,” (St. Louis is first) and Fort Worth is listed as having the 12th most dangerous drivers in the nation.

So, what can we at TCU do, especially as April is Alcohol Awareness Month?

Like our young late friend, Tim, most people often underestimate how many drinks it would take before they become intoxicated. Our main goal is not to urge you to stop enjoying your drink; rather, we would like to remind you, through an easy-to-recall acronym, VITALS, to recognize the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and get help.

VITALS stands for Vomiting, Incoherence, Temperature, Absence of color, Low breathing and Seizure

A team of TCU students developed the successful VITALS campaign to educate their fellow students to recognize these symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Through many campus events and our partnership with Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), we are driving the message home. 

Don’t be a statistic. Know your VITALS and get help before it’s too late. Learn more at www.tcuvitals.com

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.

Amiso M. George, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
Associate Professor of Strategic Communication Advisor,
TCU-PRSSA/Bateman Team Scheiffer School of Journalism