Our View is a staff editorial produced collaboratively by the entire Rocket Staff. Any views expressed in the editorial are the opinions of the entire staff.
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In the quiet town of Slippery Rock, many college students choose to go out on evenings and weekends to off-campus apartments or one of the restaurants or bars in town. After a night of fun in town, the majority of students walk back to their dorms or apartments or plan ahead to ride home with a designated driver.
However, even in 2020, some people still get behind the wheel after drinking, putting themselves and everyone around them in danger.
In 2018, 331 people died among 307 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (204 victims were people who drove after drinking). The majority of these alcohol-related crashes were between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. on the weekends.
Within this school year alone, 21 incidents have been listed in the police blotter in which SRU police responded to possible driving under the influence incidents. One of the most recent incidents gained attention on Twitter, including on the SRU Crushes Twitter page.
Despite the abundance of middle and high school programming, like Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), aimed to prevent drunk driving and stories in news media about horrific and tragic accidents relating to driving while intoxicated, this still happens at our own university.
While we will never know the exact reason someone decides to drive under any influence, the decision to do so is irresponsible and highly preventable.
At our time in life, it’s hard to think that tragedy can strike at any moment as a result of our decisions, but those split-second and poorly made choices may lead to a preventable tragedy in our own backyard.
Some Rocket staff members know people who have been victims of DUI crashes or have even driven while under the influence. For most, it can be an uncomfortable argument to demand a friend or loved one’s keys.
We understand how it feels to be young and enjoy the college experience for the brief time we are here. Still, we are not invincible, and dangerous and reckless decisions can have fatal consequences on drivers, passengers and pedestrians wherever we are in the world.
For a society that finds college student partying and binge drinking acceptable (and perhaps even stereotypical), we simply cannot allow DUIs to be a normalized part of the college experience.
At colleges, DUIs are largely preventable. If students plan ahead, they can safely arrange a way back to their dorm or apartment without having to think about it later.
At SRU, students often post to the Twitter account SRU Crushes to promote designated driving offers. For as little as $1, students can text other students to get a ride home that night.
The Student Government Association also pays for late night buses on Fridays and Saturdays around campus, including a stop outside of Ginger Hill Tavern. The bus is free for students and can be tracked on the NextBus website or app.
Regardless of the number of designated drivers on the road on a given Friday or Saturday night, even one person driving while intoxicated puts everyone else on the roads and sidewalks at risk.
It’s on us as friends and loved ones to dissuade potential drunk drivers and start a movement toward safe alcohol consumption at the bar, at parties and in every day life.
It goes without saying that any decision that can destroy the lives of others is reckless and irresponsible.
However, we wouldn’t be here sharing this message unless the number of recent driving under the influence cases in Slippery Rock was at zero.