It comes as no surprise that as a college town, Davis has its share of drunk drivers. But a new Health Education and Promotion (HEP) program is working to reduce the number and raise awareness about designated drivers.
The new program is part of the international Recording Artists, Actors, and Athletes Against Drunk Driving coalition, the entertainment community’s voice for road safety.
RADD hands out cards to designated drivers, allowing them to get free nonalcoholic drinks at local bars.
The program is based on a similar venture in San Diego in an area that has bars frequented by college students.
“We’ve taken what’s been done by the RADD coalition and tailored it and made our own campaign,” said Cindy Valencia, ATOD Risk Reduction Health Educator at HEP.
The campaign was launched Jan. 5 and HEP interns and coordinators have since been tabling and presenting to student groups.
“Generally we’ve gotten very positive reactions; people are very excited and interested,” said Lauren Salmo, a HEP student coordinator.
People ages 21 to 35 are the greatest offenders of drunk driving according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center for Alcohol and other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. 1,300 students die each year in the US from drinking and driving.
The program will expand even further on Friday Feb. 6 when a group of 10 interns and student coordinators will be spreading the word in participating bars including Woodstock’s, G Street Pub, Sophia’s, Little Prague, Pasta?, Uncle Vito’s, Bistro 33, Sudwerk’s and Froggy’s.
“The students will be distributing RADD cards; they will be highly visible,” Valencia said. “Anyone can request a card and can receive a free nonalcoholic beverage if they are the designated driver that night.“
HEP has promoted many programs for safe drinking and partying for the last few years, including the Safe Party Initiative and has also sponsored Davis Neighbors‘ Night Out. Additionally, they promote E-Chug, which allows students to take a quiz about their alcohol consumption habits and learn about the health effects of alcohol.
This new program aims to bring the issue of drunk drivers and the importance of designating a non-drinking driver to light, said Valencia.
“This card allows for more visibility and an opportunity to talk about this area,” she said. “It also allows for local bars to acknowledge this as important.“
Numerous local bars have sponsored this program including Woodstock’s, a popular student hangout.
Dee Clark, the general manager of Woodstock’s, got involved with the RADD program when she was at a police department meeting for the beer, wine and alcohol merchants downtown.
“We have always offered free soda to designated drivers, but it is still an issue that can be improved upon,” Clark said.
“Besides putting yourself or your passengers at risk there are other costs in court fees and insurance increases and [drunk driving] is threatening to many aspects of your life,” Salmo said.
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at email@example.com.