As college students, we know how easy it is to get drawn into having too much alcohol despite our best intentions.
A lot of times we jump into these new plans without considering how we will get home at the end of the night. We all like to think that we will do the right thing and be responsible. Yet, once we are at a party, we cannot help but give in and have a few drinks, despite the fact that no one else has taken it upon themselves to be the designated driver. We may tell ourselves that we’ll only have one drink and will be fine to drive in a few hours. Then one drink turns into five and we suddenly feel uneasy. Even in a situation like this, there is still a responsible option to take. We can call an Uber, or even ask to stay overnight at the place where we’re partying. Instead, many of us choose to risk our own and others’ lives to drive home drunk. It is so convenient just to drive home rather than paying for an Uber or asking to crash on our friend’s couch. But is it really that convenient to drive home drunk if that same night your friend sitting in the passenger seat is dead? Or if the single mother with three kids you crashed into is dead? Or if you are dead?
According to an article from “Weebly,” over 3 million college students are driving under the influence and about 50 percent of all fatal crashes among students involve alcohol. “Morningside” recovery explains that, “2 out of 3 people will experience a car accident involving alcohol within the course of their lives.” Two out of three is over 60 percent of the population. Every day there are 28 people who die from a drunk driving accident, according to “BACtrack.” That is over 10,000 people dead each year. This does not include those who end up paralyzed, disabled or mentally traumatized. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be received after a drunk driving accident, according to Northpoint Recovery. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness, irritability, difficulty sleeping and more. Northpoint Recovery also explains how our emotions can drastically change after such an event. Many are more susceptible to episodes of extreme anger, while some withdraw from society or shun the company of others. While many of these effects are treatable, why would we bring this upon someone just for the option to drive under the influence?
I am passionate about informing people of this issue because of my own personal experience with drunk driving. My father was a victim of a drunk driving accident. He was stopped at a red light when a man driving under the influence of alcohol rear-ended him at over 40 miles-per-hour. My father was left on disability with chronic back and neck issues requiring multiple surgeries. Growing up knowing all of this and how the situation could have been much worse, I have felt incredibly lucky to have him come out of that accident alive. If the driver was going any faster, my dad would have died. Although I had to help him put on his socks and shoes every morning, and help my dad do routine activities, I still feel extremely fortunate. There are children like me who had to grow up without a parent, or a sibling, or a friend because of a similar accident.
If we can all learn from these horrifying accidents and very real statistics, we will have safer roads, especially in college towns. We can be an example for younger generations to follow us and be informed of the several responsible options they have. Learning how to change something is only the first step, but doing something about it — such as informing others or being the designated driver — is what really matters and will make a difference.
Allison LaBella is a third-year Communications major and journalism minor. AL863643@wcupa.edu