Parents Julie and Guy Blasingame faced a horrific nightmare in 2003 – the death of their 16 year-old daughter at the hands of a drunk driver. Motivated by this tragedy, the couple inspired the Texas State Legislator to pass a law allowing family members to put up memorial signs along the highway where loved ones died as a result of drunk driving.
The Blasingames’ sign was the very first one. It read, “Please don’t drink and drive. In memory of Rachel Blasingame.” The sign they created to honor her memory and to encourage others to drive safely was taken down last week by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Unfortunately, the Texas legislation says that signs can’t be up for longer than two years. For the Blasingames, two years is not nearly enough. They intend to fight the two year limit. “If it was your daughter or your son or grandmother, you would fight too,” explained Julie.
The Blasingames believe that their sign does more than memorialize Rachel; it effects the daily lives of other drivers. “I’ve had people contacting me, saying that it means a lot,” said Rachel’s mother, Julie Blasingame. “I had an alcoholic contact me, e-mailed me, gave me letters and said, ‘I don’t want to drink anymore because I see these things,’ so it makes a difference.”
Even if the sign is never put up again, Rachel’s memory has already had a meaningful impact. The high honor roll student, who spent much of her free time volunteering, was hoping to attend Abilene Christian University (ACU) after graduation. In her honor, ACU has a scholarship in her name and family members coordinate with the university for annual fundraisers and benefits.
There are 125 signs like Rachel’s and each one will have to come down when they reach their two year limit. Hopefully, by then the Texas State Legislature will have had the opportunity to consider how removing the signs effects the grieving families.