Drunken driving is a problem among college students that, unfortunately, does not seem to have a working solution. But if more students took advantage of alternative means of the designated driving currently available, the number of fatalities could significantly decrease.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,100 fatalities among students from drunken driving accidents occur annually, while nearly 500,000 students suffer from non-fatal injuries.
In an effort to help lower these statistics, marketers at Pepin Distributing Company have been trying to offer safe and convenient alternatives to driving under the influence.
Pepin, the Tampa Anheuser-Busch distributing division in association with Gulf Coast Transportation’s Alert Cab, offers to take a patron who has driven to a bar but is too intoxicated to drive home a cab ride home for free.
When a beer industry as large as Anheuser-Busch promotes such a service, there should be no excuse for alcohol consumers to drive under the influence.
Eligibility for the program is simple. The patron must have no other means of transportation, have a valid driver’s license and have driven to the location, where he or she is to be picked up.
Tow-to-Go is another free-of-charge alternative to drunken driving. If a student is uncomfortable with the idea of leaving his or her vehicle unattended overnight, they can call AAA South in November and December, and have their vehicle towed back to their house.
USF has also been trying repeatedly to offer a safe alternative to students. In the past, the Sober Ride service was an ideal way of providing intoxicated students with a means home from local bars and restaurants. However, in May of 2001, Sober Ride was shut down due to an increase in its insurance costs. As a result to the cut, Student Government arranged for the Alert Cab service to be available to USF students.
Working with Pepin’s Alert Cab service, the university’s Safe Team acts as dispatchers for the company. Again, if a student is off campus and is too intoxicated to drive, they can contact the Safe Team and have a complimentary cab sent to their location. The service is free of charge, however, students are asked to tip the drivers and they must have a valid USF identification card.
It is commendable that Anheuser-Busch, Gulf Coast transportation and USF are taking action to protect their most valuable patrons, the college students. Visibility and awareness about the programs have to improve as many students are not even aware these programs are available to them.
United Cab of Hillsborough County can be reached at 253-2424, the USF Safe Team can be reached at 974-SAFE (7233), and AAA can be reached at 289-5000.