ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — In the blink of an eye, an automobile charges into the opposite lane of traffic, causing cars to collide with an alarming impact that sends vehicles and passengers reeling.
On Nov. 8, 1980, Lesley Ledbetter and her father smashed into a drunken driver that had entered their lane.
“My dad and I were almost killed,” Ledbetter said.
Though Ledbetter was only 3 years old at the time, it would forever play a role in her life.
“After the accident, I was in a coma for two weeks,” she said. “I came out of it with a traumatic brain injury and it has affected my motor skills on my right side. I was scalped on the right side my head. I had to learn how to walk and talk and do basic everyday functions again.”
To this day, Ledbetter, a Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) coordinator, has vowed to do what she can to prevent people from driving while intoxicated.
“I want to educate people about the effects of drunk driving and how it’s impacted my life,” she said. “My heart is totally into trying to prevent DWIs and teaching people about the cause and effects of it.”
To realize her goal, Ledbetter teamed up with the Otero County DWI program, Teen Court and some local youth this week to place 1,500 informative stickers on alcoholic beverages at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s Pay & Save.
“We call it the ‘Sticker Shock’ campaign,” she said. “The stickers are bright and have warnings about the penalties of providing alcohol to minors.”
Ledbetter said the campaign started in 2009 to raise awareness about alcohol laws. She said the purpose of teaming up with youth for the campaign is to help inform them of the law so they grow into adults who make responsible decisions.
She also said the SADD and MADD programs always collaborate with local youth during certain events throughout the year to educate young adults about the hazards of drinking while celebrating special occasions.
“We always do it around prom,” she said. “We’ve done it around the Super Bowl and, of course, we do it around the new year, too.”
Ledbetter said during all holiday festivities, people often forget to make wise decisions when it comes to drinking.
“New Year’s Day is one of the deadliest days of the year for drunk driving,” she said. “It’s the only day of the year that over half of all traffic fatalities involve drunk driving.”
Teen Court coordinator Joy Arana said she hopes the next time people purchase a six-pack of beer or a wine cooler that they’ll see the bright stickers and make better decisions.
“It’s our intent this holiday season that customers will see the stickers and be reminded of the law, become aware of the law, or think twice about violating the law,” Arana said.
Arana said sticker shock is just one way organizations are working to address underage drinking and substance abuse in the area.