The message is everywhere. It’s on billboards, Facebook, T.V. and on the front page of this paper. Driving while intoxicated is never OK.
According to the Center of Disease Control, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. In the same year, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s one percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
Additionally, 17 percent of traffic deaths involving a minor involved intoxicated drivers. Driving drunk not only risks the life of the driver, but others on the road with them.
Multiple resources both on and off campus have been dedicated to getting students home safely and educating us on the dangers of drunk driving. Between Safe Rides, Uber, Lyft and the Maryville taxi service, we have more options than ever to not get behind the wheel while buzzed.
Though we lost two members of the Maryville community due to alleged drunk driving this year, there has been a decrease in drunk driving arrests. Director of Maryville Public Safety Keith Wood said the decrease is a result of the resources available and the dedication of his officers to catching drunk drivers.
The University tries to make safe transportation for students a priority. While it may be confusing to use Safe Ride at first, the University Police Department is taking steps to make it more clear.
During Student Senate’s meeting Oct. 30 University Police Chief Clarence Green discussed how UPD and student leaders could clear up the confusion for the shuttle service.
“We have a shuttle service during the day,” Green said. “This goes to retail stops and has five vehicles on two routes. After hours, it works like a taxi services, picking people up from parties.”
The wait for Safe Rides to arrive may be frustrating or inconvenient, but it is worth it.
Even if students don’t want to wait for Safe Rides, other organizations are taking up the responsibility to lower drunk driving instances. Organizations such as Sigma Society have safety measures such as Sober Sisters to help each other get home after a wild night at Molly’s or a house party.
Other programs have been put in place throughout Maryville like the Blue Cup Initiative.
The Blue Cup Initiative is practiced in some bars where if someone is a designated driver, they get a blue cup and have unlimited, nonalcoholic drinks.
Even though we may hold animosity towards lectures, the discussions Wellness Services hold are full of information we need to be aware of.
While it may seem dramatic to say it’s a life or death situation, it isn’t far from the truth. Drunk driving can and has killed many.
No life should be cut short due to drunk driving, but the best way to honor those who did is to prevent it from happening to someone else.