Dallas Student Drives Away in Free Hybrid Vehicle
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Dallas Student Drives Away in Free Hybrid Vehicle

Drive Clean Across Texas Sweepstakes Win Comes at Right Time for Ernest Rios

AUSTIN - Winning a new Ford Fusion Hybrid couldn't have come at a better time for 19-year-old Ernest Rios of Dallas. That's because he won the 2012 Drive Clean Across Texas sweepstakes soon after his self-described clunker of a car stopped running. The car giveaway is part of a statewide campaign encouraging motorists to do their part to help reduce air pollution.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback, Brandon Carr, handed over the keys to the shiny new hybrid sedan to an elated Rios at the Cowboys' Valley Ranch headquarters Friday. "I can't believe it," said Rios, who was joined by his family at the Drive Clean Across Texas sweepstakes award ceremony. "My old car just died, so this is perfect timing."

Rios entered the statewide online sweepstakes after seeing a promotional billboard in Dallas. Since his car called it quits, he has become a frequent user of DART light rail and buses, which he expects to continue using in addition to driving his new hybrid car.

"Learning to get around town on the bus or train has made me appreciate the idea that everyone can do small things for cleaner air," Rios said. "I have an app on my phone that tells me how much CO2 I save by taking light rail. But, it's also important to do things like inflate your tires and keep your car in good shape – just little things can make a difference."

Rios and his family were joined at Valley Ranch by Drive Clean Across Texas campaign representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), as well as partners from the Dallas Cowboys, which donated the vehicle.

"The Drive Clean Across Texas campaign reminds Texas drivers of the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality," said Margo Richards, TxDOT's Travel Information Division director. "Hybrid vehicles have fewer emissions and use less fuel, so they are a great way for motorists to reduce air pollution and save money at the gas pump. We wish Ernest Rios many happy years of driving clean and hope he will influence family and friends to drive clean as well.

Texas drivers can help curb air pollution and reduce gas consumption by taking simple steps such as replacing dirty oil or fuel filters, keeping tires properly inflated and having their car or truck regularly serviced. More clean air tips and other information about air quality can be found at www.DriveCleanAcrossTexas.org

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November 30, 2012