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ADAI Encourages Participation In Designated Driver Program

Jan. 10, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

students with car

There are always parties and celebrations to ring in the start of a new year. But it’s not always the most popular job to be the designated driver - the one who abstains from drinking and partying for the night to guarantee a safe trip back home.

The SHSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative is working to make the choice to be a designated driver even easier with their iDrive program.

Modeled after a program at the University of Delaware, the iDrive program uses incentives and community partnership with local bars and businesses to motivate students to volunteer to be a designated driver for their group.

According to Rosanne Keathley, ADAI coordinator, the beauty of the program is that there are no sign ups, no paperwork, or any kind of previous commitment for students to participate in the program. The program is designed so that it grows by word of mouth and is user friendly – restaurants don’t have to pay either. It’s simple. And it’s safe.

When a student who is the designated driver goes to a participating restaurant or bar, all they have to do is tell the server or bartender they are choosing not to drink and to serve as the safe driver for their group. They then can have free non-alcoholic beverages in a neon orange iDrive cup or free food as incentive for being the designated driver.

Some of the participating businesses include Murskis, Shenanigans, Zach’s, Fat Boys and several of the liquor stores in Huntsville.

“This is a great way to get students to want to be the designated driver,” Keathley said. “It puts the responsibility on the student. Through the iDrive program, we hope to remind students about the dangers of impaired driving and binge drinking, and what can happen when you mix drugs and alcohol. This program doesn't tell them not to drink, but it does give them the tools to make responsible choices.”

Keathley said that the ADAI office is hoping to create a new program along the same lines as iDrive that would be more of a safe-ride program with trained volunteers to be designated drivers about three nights a week. For now though, the iDrive program, which kicked off in the fall of 2007, has seen great success with a lot of student participation, especially at places like Shenanigans and the Jolly Fox that have high student attendance on several nights a week.

ADAI has also started the Good Sam Program, a Good Samaritan style program that encourages students to act in good faith in return for medical amnesty. The concept of the program is that if a student is out with friends, and an incident occurs involving alcohol, the Good Sam Program allows them to receive the medical attention they may need without worrying about getting into trouble with the law, for things such as underage drinking.

“It’s a ‘no questions asked practice’ style of program. This is a community partnership with support from Huntsville Memorial Hospital, the City of Huntsville, and University Police Department,” Keathley said. “Records have shown that 16 students or less per month go to the hospital seeking medical attention for things like alcohol poisoning. That’s not very many. This program is going to help alleviate the fear of prosecution and hopefully save lives because of it.”

In a way, the Good Sam Program works hand-in-hand with the iDrive program. Both encourage students to act responsibly by rewarding them with incentives. Keathley said that this method has been very successful combined with prevention through regulation.

“When students know the consequences, it affects their choices and gets their attention,” Keathley said. “We are hoping that Sam Houston students will be able to make safe and responsible decisions while still having fun.”

For more information and a complete list of sponsors, visit the ADAI website at http://www.shsu.edu/~org_aai/.


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