Driving for a Cause

Brittany - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on October 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Driving for a Cause

I believe in being a designated driver.

On August 31, 2006 I learned that life can disappear in a night. My teammates all huddled outside the locker room with tears rolling down their faces. “Tessa got in an accident! She is dead. She is dead,” screamed my friend Chelsea. My heart felt like it was going to rip out of my chest and I instantly started crying. I knew it was true but I kept thinking maybe I will go to my second block class tomorrow and she will be there. Maybe Tessa was just on vacation.

The reality was Tessa was never coming back. She was gone.

On August 30, 2006, Tessa Tranchant, 16, was innocently driving with her best friend, Allie, in her 1994 Plymouth when Alfredo Ramos, a drunk driver, crashed into the rear of their car going seventy miles per hour. Allie, 17, was pronounced dead on the scene, and Tessa died an hour later in the emergency room. Ramos had a blood alcohol level of .2. He was not even aware he was in an accident and could not tell the police his name or where he had been an hour prior. Ramos walked out of the accident with minor injuries.

Our community all received a wakeup call from this event. The media became very active in the story and people fought for “The Tessa-Allie Bill”: a one strike rule on alcohol related accidents. I too got involved in the crusade against drunk driving. In 2007, I was a part of the “Every Fifteen Minutes” program in high school, which spreads awareness about drinking and driving by reenacting a real life crash in front of all the students. The accident made it seem as if we were dead. We were taken away from our lives for three days with no means of contact. We then were brought back to school for an assembly reuniting with our parents and classmates. Tessa’s mom and sister spoke during the assembly about the nightmare they had been living ever since Tessa died.

Over half the school pledged to not drive under the influence. Mrs. Tranchant expressed her satisfaction: “Thank you so much. Even though I can never have my daughter back maybe this will save one more child’s parents from having to go through the pain I have experienced these past months.”

I know I cannot stop teens and adults from drinking, but I do believe I can help keep people under the influence off the road. I will steal friends’ keys, drive them home, or even lock them in a room, but I will not let them drive home drunk.