Group tackles drunk driving issue
Mothers Against Drunk Driving cautions against drunk driving as the holidays approach and National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (3D Month) begins.
‘Drunk driving is inexcusable because it can be prevented,’ Bridget Anderson, executive director of MADD in Houston, said.
‘People think they are in total control and that they can drive, (but) even if they had just one drink they can’t drive.’
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site, people who drink and drive after parties make the holiday season dangerous due to its high rate of alcohol-related crashes.
‘In 2008, 11,773 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the United States,’ an NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts report stated.
According to the report, drunk driving fatalities accounted for 32 percent of all traffic deaths last year. On average, a drunk driver kills someone every 45 minutes.
‘The best thing to do is to have a plan that would be to get a designated driver, whether it is a taxi, a friend, a mom or dad,’ youth programs specialist of Houston’s MADD Robyn Schultheis said.
MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, prevent underage drinking and support victims.
Schultheis said the organization is not against responsible adult drinking, but against irresponsible choices regarding drunk driving.
MADD is not strictly comprised of mothers; it is made up of many people working together to create a safer community.
‘When you get stuck in a situation when you drink and know you are going to drive, you are being a follower, you are not being a leader,’ Schultheis said.
People can create a variety of plans to prevent any inconveniences this holiday season.
‘People should avoid hanging out with people who only want to drink,’ public relations senior Nathaniel Gomez said.
‘Stopping drunk driving is important because it’s a violent crime that is preventable.’
Anderson said if people want to go out and party, they should go to someone’s house and not leave.
‘If I know I’m driving, I do not drink,’ media production senior Isabel Torres said.
‘If you are drinking and you are at a party or at your friend’s house, spend the night or find a designated driver before going out,’ Torres said.
Harris County is one of the most populated counties in the U.S. and, according to MADD’s Web site, has more drunk driving deaths per capita than any other county in the nation.
‘We know it’s a big problem, but we can’t seem to respond to the reality,’ sociology junior Daniel de la Pena said.
‘People can use a designated driver, call a cab or maybe not even drink at all.’
According to the MADD Web site, ‘About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.’
‘You know for a second what you are about to do is wrong; make the right choice,’ Schultheis said. ‘We do not want you to become statistics.’
Many college students suffer from the effects of alcohol use, as 1,700 die every year from alcohol-related accidents.
About 25 percent of students report academic consequences to their drinking, including missing classes, performing poorly on exams and receiving lower grades overall.
Each year, approximately 700,000 college students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and more than 150,000 develop an alcohol-related health problem. More than two in every five college students are binge drinkers, according to MADD’s Web site.
‘Remember friends, buzzed driving is drunk driving; do not let friends drink and drive,’ Gomez said.