AUSTIN – Janakae Sargent was a good friend. So much so, that as a 20-year-old student at Texas Tech, she often spent Saturday nights as a designated driver, ensuring her friends got home safely. In November 2006, while in between trips as a designated driver, Janakae was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. She hung on to life for four days, but ultimately died from her injuries.
“Janakae was authentic,” said her mother, Kandi Wiley. “Her heart was devoted to family and friends. Her smile was contagious, and she had big ideas for her future. We will never know the big impact she could have had. Her family and friends experienced a great loss, but it’s not just our loss, it’s our community’s loss.”
Janakae’s mother is sharing her story through the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign, which aims to save lives and decrease alcohol-related crashes. As many Texas college students enjoy Spring Break in the coming weeks, the campaign focuses on younger drivers who may engage in celebrations involving alcohol.
“Drinking and driving is a dangerous and often deadly choice that can ruin the future of a young driver and all those impacted by a crash,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Underage drinking also is illegal and can quickly turn a celebration into a tragedy. This Spring Break, enjoy your time off, but be responsible and plan ahead for a sober ride. Don’t make a bad decision that could negatively impact your future and cause heartache for your family and others.”
The “Plan While You Can” campaign includes a statewide tour featuring an interactive dodgeball game where participants dodge “beach balls” as virtual drinks are added to the screen. As more drinks are added, participants experience how drinking can slow their reaction times as on-screen avatars begin responding more slowly to their players’ movements.
Drivers under the influence of alcohol can face up to $17,000 in fines, legal fees, impoundment and other costs. As always, TxDOT strongly encourages everyone to plan for a sober ride before going out. Visit SoberRides.org to find alternatives to drinking and driving, such as:
Calling a taxi or using a transportation app on your smartphone. Using mass transit. Asking a sober friend or family member for a ride home. Spending the night. For more information, contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov or (512) 463-8700.