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Partners Join Statewide to Remind Tennesseans to Avoid Destructive Decisions this Super Bowl Weekend

Friday, January 30, 2015 | 04:01am

Tennessee – Super Bowl weekend is an exciting time for people to come together and celebrate. As those celebrations take place, partners across the state are reminding Tennesseans to plan ahead and designate sober drivers. The Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, the Franklin Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol joined the Tennessee Titans today to share a unified message: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk this Super Bowl Sunday.

Among those speaking at the press event included Stephen and Kimberly Schlapman, whose brother Allen was killed by a drunk driver in 2012. “He was a daddy, husband, son, brother, and Uncle Allen to our daughter, Daisy,” said Kimberly Schlapman. “His death was a tragic and shocking blow to our family. We take some comfort in our hope that the remains of the motorcycle he was riding will show others how easy it is for a drunk driver to kill an innocent person, and it is our prayer that people who see it will make the personal commitment to never drive after drinking.”

The Schlapman family donated the motorcycle Allen was riding when he was killed to the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) program and the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. SADD is a peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking and risky and impaired driving. Julie Strike, SADD State Coordinator, will be taking the motorcycle and educational trailer to events across the state.

“We were honored when the Schlapman family reached out to SADD and our office to help share Allen’s story,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “We’ve been working on this project for the last few months, and Super Bowl weekend seemed like the perfect time to kick it off. We know there is an increase in impaired driving around events like this, so we want to make an effort to stop it before it starts.”

The Franklin Police Department will hold a memorial checkpoint for Allen tonight. “Keeping our streets safe from impaired drivers is a responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner. “We regularly conduct DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols to deter, detect, and arrest DUI offenders. Allen Schlapman lost his life to a drunk driver on Franklin Road in 2012. He was someone’s brother, someone’s husband, someone’s father, and someone’s friend. Our January 30th checkpoint is dedicated to his memory, and to everyone he loved.”

“All of the partners represented here today have one thing in common: a commitment to end drunk driving,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer. “Engineering, education and enforcement are all key components of achieving that goal. Stories like Allen’s are a continual reminder that there is still work left to be done. Have fun this weekend, but don’t let your celebration turn into a nightmare for someone else.”

Don MacLachlan, Tennessee Titans Executive Vice President of Administration & Facilities, attended the event to remind all sports fans that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. The Tennessee Titans are part of the NFL Designated Driver program which allows fans to sign up as designated drivers for friends and family. “This year, we had 6,497 fans make the commitment to be responsible and help loved ones get home safe. We are proud of these individuals for their leadership and we hope that everyone follows their example this weekend.”

According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were seventy-six alcohol-involved crashes during last year’s Super Bowl weekend that resulted in one fatality.

“Even one fatality is too many,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol Major James Hutcherson. “The Tennessee Highway Patrol is committed to the Drive to Zero campaign. We had seventy-six people make the decision to get behind the wheel last year after they’d been drinking. That is unacceptable. We’re hopeful that through our enforcement, including sobriety and seat belt checkpoints and roving patrols, motorists will think twice before drinking and driving.”

 

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