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Akers: Enabling drinking and driving is just as bad as doing it yourself

Kenny Eliason, Unsplash
If you come across a friend, or even a stranger who is trying to drink and drive, don’t let them.

College is a transformative period in a lot of our lives, and let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to those four years than just studying and academics. It’s a time to find out who you are, to create new experiences, make friends, have fun and, well, drink.

When you mix young, inexperienced adults with their first taste of freedom and their first taste of alcohol, what could go wrong?

Well, every 79 seconds, someone is killed or injured in a drunk driving crash, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Most of us have been warned of the dangers of drinking and driving. While some may believe it only puts the driver at risk, drinking and driving can lead to irreversible, devastating outcomes. You may be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because you never get behind the wheel after drinking, but have you ever let a friend?

Nearly four in 10 people, 37%, have friends who they believe have driven while being over the legal drinking limit, according to a study conducted by RAC Media Center, which surveyed 1,865 motorists. Twenty-eight percent of these motorists also admitted to being unprepared to try to talk a friend out of driving who they thought may have been over the legal drinking limit.

Nearly 2,000 college students between the ages of 18-24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injury, including motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. That number is indefensible.

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” reads one of the first effective public service campaigns released by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about reducing drinking and driving in 1983.

If you come across a friend or even a stranger who is trying to drink and drive, don’t let them. Here are some tips for what you can do:

If you have not been drinking, you could offer them a ride home. You could also call an Uber or a Lyft for them instead and stay with them until their ride gets there. If they are somewhere they can stay the night, give them a comfy place to relax and sleep.

If none of these options are working, you’ll have to be more assertive. First, try to be understanding and talk with your friend about why they should not drive under the influence. If you still can’t get through to them, try your best to prevent them from driving by taking their car keys.

If all else fails and they manage to get behind the wheel, call law enforcement. It can be scary to get the police involved, but your friend could get seriously hurt or killed while also causing harm to others.

Most importantly, do not get in a car with them. You can find more information and tips about how to stop your friend from drinking and driving online.

It is also important to note that in most states, allowing someone to drink and drive could constitute a criminal offense. This depends on the situation and state laws, but it is another reason not to allow the people around you to drive drunk.

Always have a designated driver, and make sure your friends do too. Remember, friends don’t let friends drink and drive.

Madison Akers is a senior communication major from Easley, South Carolina. Madison can be reached at [email protected].

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Madison Akers, Asst. Opinion Editor
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