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Monday, July 11, 2011

TxDOT's Telenovela Reaches Its Hispanic Drivers

This month, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has launched an education campaign in "telenovela" format. They have created a mini telenovela series that is especially focused on keeping the Hispanic community safe while driving. The series will be aired specifically to make the Hispanic drivers aware of the dangers of drinking while driving.

"We created these telenovelas to reach Hispanic women and men who may be unfamiliar with drunk driving laws. We chose the telenovela format because historically, Hispanic families tend to develop an emotional connection with these series and their characters. We believe it's an effective way to encourage people to take the initiative and not let the people they care about get behind the wheel after they've been drinking," Carol T. Rawson P.E., TxDOT Traffic Operations Director says.

In Texas, Hispanics make up over a third of the population, which is the reason why TxDOT aims to keep them safe on the roads. Here are some key statistics:

  • 33 percent of all DUI fatalities in Texas in 2009 occurred in crashes where a Hispanic driver was under the influence of alcohol. (TxDOT, CRIS)

  • 21 percent of all Hispanic DUI drivers involved in crashes in 2009 had a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. (TxDOT, CRIS)

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics one to 44 years of age, and 15 percent of U.S.-born Mexican Americans had a DUI within the past 12 months according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

They plan on airing three short telenovelas that follow the members of a Hispanic family as they are faced with drinking and driving situations. These telenovelas will spotlight how drivers can proactively prevent drinking and driving, explain the consequences of drinking and driving, and explain the laws to those who are unfamiliar with them.

The telenovelas will air as 2-and-a-half minute presentations that will air on Univision, Estrella and Telefutura in target areas such as Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. The videos will also be posted on TxDOT's official YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/TxDOTpio.

The airing period covered the July 4th, a holiday when most of law enforcement was toughened via high visibility enforcement and no-refusal crackdowns. This is a great initiative and TxDOT is among the first agencies to deliver such a message in telenovela format.

Here is one of the short telenovelas to be aired:

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