INDIANAPOLIS — Dawn Vasquez is living through every parent’s worst nightmare every day.
In July 2020, her son, 23-year-old construction worker David Vasquez, was killed in a crash on Interstate 65 near downtown Indianapolis.
He was working in a construction zone when driver Cheyenne Pass swerved into the right shoulder and hit him, according to Indiana State Police.
Authorities said Pass was driving drunk at the time of the crash.
“Shawn, according to the coroner, was killed instantly,” Dawn Vasquez said. "I have not read the police report because I don’t think that I can."
It was because of that Vasquez joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving to help raise awareness.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I want to make sure that parents don’t go through what we are going through every single day,” Dawn Vasquez said.
Preliminary data shows traffic fatalities across Indiana are up 19 from this time last year — more than 70 from 2020 and more than 50 from pre-pandemic levels dating back to 2019.
“We have seen recent numbers that show an increase in fatal crashes on Indiana highways which is a trend we have also seen throughout the nation,” ISP Sgt. John Perrine said.
Perrine said he believes the increase in fatal crashes can be credited to having more drivers, as well as more reckless drivers.
Many of the problems stem from impaired driving and a failure to use a seat belt, according to Devon McDonald, Devon McDonald, executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“A lot of it is just sometimes poor decisions that are made by motorists on the roadways,” McDonald said.
McDonald added that Memorial Day Weekend is considered the start of the 100 deadliest days of summer — which he says tends to be the most dangerous days for drivers to be on the roadway.
To help fight one cause of fatal crashes, the Criminal Justice Institute has its Sober Ride Indiana Initiative. The program offers $15 dollars off Uber and Lyft rides in Indianapolis. The discounted rides can only be redeemed between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m.
“We want to save lives. We want people to make sound decisions to drive safely. We want people to slow down, (and) pay attention to what they are doing, McDonald concluded.