EUTAWVILLE -- Dozens of concerned citizens, student leaders and members of local church congregations gathered at the community center in Eutawville on Sept. 23 to campaign against driving while under the influence of alcohol and while distracted by electronic devices.
“I thank each of you for coming out ... to help us honor and celebrate a great cause to fight against -- drinking and texting while driving,” said Byron Brown, founder and organizer of the Stop Drinking, Driving and Texting Campaign of South Carolina. “I say to each of you, 'Drive to Stay Alive.'”
Brown scheduled the event for Sept. 23 because it marked the 25th anniversary of the day his father, Samuel George Brown, was killed in an alcohol-related wreck. The elder Brown perished in 1967 when his vehicle collided with another vehicle being driven by an intoxicated individual.
Byron Brown uses that bitter memory to drive him to create positive outcomes in the lives of other Eutawville-area residents.
“You may say, “How can we mine anything positive from the tragic situation that took place 50 years ago?'” Brown said. “Therefore, we are focusing our energy this day on reiterating and reinforcing the preventative message to all of you.”
“Although the law clearly states that it is illegal to drive after consuming alcohol, many people take liberties within this framework,” he said. “Many a night, after clubbing or attending other social events where liquor is served, people will mindlessly take their keys out of the purse or pocket, put them in the ignition and immediately proceed to drive to their next destination.”
Brown added, “In their mind and heart, they may feel as if the mind is steady and the alcohol is not altering their awareness level, hand/eye coordination, reaction time and ability to focus."
Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Capt. James Green, the keynote speaker for the event, shared chilling tales about the high emotional, physical and economic costs of driving while intoxicated or distracted. He also discussed ways to avoid some of the greatest dangers facing today’s drivers.
Several winners of the statewide George Brown Campaign Against Drinking and Driving Essay Contest also read passages from their essays about the dangers associated with driving while intoxicated or distracted.
Jaymee Morgan of North Augusta High School in Aiken took home the top prize in the contest. The honor included a cash award of $150. Kylie Rutherford of Northwood Middle school in Charleston County was awarded $125 for second place.
The only local student winning an award in the essay contest was Ashlynne Watkins of Denmark-Olar Elementary School in Denmark, who captured a fifth place award.
The winner in the adult category was Sharon Pace of Richland 1 School District, who received a $100 cash award.
“Research has shown that even the smallest amount of alcohol has exponential effects on the key components of driver safety,” Brown said. “A car is used for convenient and reliable transportation, an effective and versatile invention to transport from point A to point B and back again.
“However, when alcohol is added to the equation, this benign and necessary tool becomes a 3,000-pound weapon capable of mass destruction and life-altering tragedy for anyone in its dangerous path.”
To find out more about the Stop Drinking, Driving and Texting Campaign, contact Brown at 202-294-4735 or email@example.com.