TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - At the rate drivers in Arizona are going, the state is on pace to reach 1,000 deaths on streets and highways in 2017.
Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety Alberto Gutier shared that stat with members of the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force Friday, Dec. 1. It would be an increase from last year.
The collaborative effort of law enforcement agencies across several counties announced at Pima Community College West Campus that it will ramp up patrols and sobriety checkpoints for the holiday season.
Multiple representatives from those agencies called on the people of southern Arizona to put down their car keys if they plan on picking up any alcoholic beverages.
"Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it - it's a simple, simple message," said Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema. "It's simple to talk about. It's simple to understand. And...year after year after year we have to keep reiterating the message. "
It's a message that Valerie Sevarda learned when she was only nine years old. Her family was on its way to a wedding in New Mexico when an impaired driver slammed into them. She survived, but her cousin did not.
"It was hard," she said. "It's been hard. It's a battle every single day that I fight. It didn't just end that day."
Savedra spoke to the crowd of first responders Friday. Decades after that crash, she began volunteering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"A lot of people that call in the crisis line," said Savedra. "It's still fresh to them. I know where they're going on the journey. I've been there."
It's a journey that someone else sent her on when she was only a child. Now as an adult, she hopes that others will think twice before putting themselves in a situation that could be just as destructive.
"I wanted to be a change for somebody," she said. "If my story could touch just one person and make a change, that's all that mattered."