When Donna Davila thinks of her daughter Sabrina, she remembers her helpful heart and rambunctious spirit.
“She was always there to help everybody,” Donna recalls. “That's just the way she was… there was something special about her.”
Sabrina, who was adopted by Donna and her husband Tommy at the age of two months, was their beloved “miracle child.”
On December 23, 2014, Donna, Tommy and Sabrina gathered to exchange Christmas presents.
“I always remember we bought her these leggings and we bought her this navy blue blouse that went all the way down to her knees,” Donna says, recalling how beautiful Sabrina looked when she put everything on. “I mean she was glowing, but I didn't take a picture because I just didn't think our lives would change from that point on.”
She was glowing, but I didn't take a picture because I just didn't think our lives would change from that point on.
Later that night, 18-year-old Sabrina and her unborn child, Laticea Renee, were killed in a car crash with a wrong-way driver. The driver had methamphetamines and morphine in her system.
But Donna and Tommy didn’t know any of those details yet. They were consumed by grief, struggling to come to grips with the shattering loss of life of their child and grandchild.
The day of the funeral came. When Tommy stepped out for a moment, Donna leaned over the casket of her daughter – her miracle child – and her unborn granddaughter and sang a lullaby like the ones Sabrina loved when she was young.
Donna knew it would be her last chance to sing to them.
“I just thought at that time it was good because I was there by myself,” Donna recalls. “I could have that moment with Sabrina and my grandbaby, and I did.”
Eventually, they learned that the driver had drugs in her system. In a split second – they had all suddenly become victims of a preventable tragedy: a person who chose to drive impaired.
The six weeks between Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Day is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Nearly half of all fatalities during this period are caused by impaired driving, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
After the crash findings were revealed, MADD reached out to Donna to offer support.
“They wanted to let us know that their services were there, that we weren't alone through this process,” Donna recalls. “Through our whole ordeal, MADD has been there.”
Donna has been sharing her story alongside MADD to create a world with no more victims of drunk and impaired driving.
“I don’t want any families to go through this,” Donna explains. “As the holidays come up, just have a plan to get home safe.”
I don’t want any families to go through this. As the holidays come up, just have a plan to get home safe.
This is the 36th year of MADD’s Tie One on for Safety campaign that invites the public to display red ribbons, decals or magnets on their vehicles to remind people to have a plan to get home safely during the holidays.
“We know that Waymo’s technology is another tool in the toolbox to get us to a day when there will be no more victims,” says Alex Otte, National President of MADD.
We know that Waymo’s technology is another tool in the toolbox to get us to a day when there will be no more victims.
Waymo’s autonomous driving technology – which is applied to many vehicle types, including passenger vehicles and semi-trucks – is designed to be a cautious, vigilant driver that obeys road rules, respects other drivers and pedestrians, and never drives impaired.
“So many traffic fatalities and so many crashes are really due to operator error,” Alex emphasizes, highlighting distracted, drunk and drowsy driving as examples. “The Waymo technology really takes that out of the hands of the driver.”
In fall of 2022, Alex, Donna and Tommy toured Waymo’s autonomous trucking facility, an operations hub for its trucking business line Waymo Via, in south Dallas.
Donna says she’s hopeful about the promise of autonomous driving technology to improve road safety and contribute to MADD's mission of "no more victims," whether utilized for ride-hailing services or trucking.
“It’s exciting to know that there’s this technology,” Donna says, adding that people can use Waymo’s ride-hailing service, Waymo One, as a designated driver.
“We're grateful for Waymo's partnership because we know that between the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is an incredibly deadly and dangerous time of year for drunk driving,” Alex says.
We're grateful for Waymo's partnership because we know that between the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is an incredibly deadly and dangerous time of year for drunk driving.
Alex says the goal is for people to understand how to protect their own lives and those of others by making a plan and avoiding impaired driving.
“Have a wonderful holiday, but do so in a way that makes sure we all get to go home.”