Anti-drunk driving program helps students stay safe on the weekends

December 17, 2008 — by Gautham Ganesan and Ketaki Shriram

After a long night of incessant partying and heavy drinking, a student finds himself with two options: spending the night on the host’s front lawn or risking death by hopping in a car with an alcohol-influenced driver, two decidedly less-than-pleasant choices. Soon, however, if a proposed plan to reinstitute the Safe Ride program at Saratoga High goes through, the student may have the far more preferable third option of chartering a volunteer to pick him up and drop him off at home, no questions asked.

Safe Ride has a significant history at Saratoga High, having been operated over the course of several years before being cancelled due to a host of insurance issues involving student volunteers attempting to drive their intoxicated peers. Combined with a lack of interest in the program, these issues led to the indefinite hiatus of the program.

While some would contend that SHS isn’t directly responsible for the actions of students outside off campus and should not be held accountable for the inevitable consequences there, Safe Ride is an easy and safe way to save lives. Having taken such measures as the cancellation of school dances and the establishment of a student Task Force to counteract student drinking, the school would be hypocritical not to take measures to preclude drunken driving, a far more dangerous activity than mere consumption.

Some may attest that Safe Ride promotes teen drinking by offering a consequence-free way to get home, but the benefits of having this program far outweigh any negatives. Students making use of the service would most likely have consumed alcohol without thinking about how to get home. If Safe Ride prevents just one person from driving drunk, it is worth it.

The lack of Safe Ride was most glaringly obvious last spring when Every Fifteen Minutes, a program designed to illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving, produced an elaborate two-day presentation at SHS. Although an actual accident scene and subsequent funeral were simulated, students would have been better convinced of the school’s concern for their well-being had Safe Ride been simultaneously available to prevent the very perils highlighted by the program.

Drinking-related automobile accidents that result in deaths have become increasingly common over the past few years across the county, a statistic that could be easily rectified should the school follow through on the preliminary plans in place to reinstitute this life-saving service that ensures students have a viable road to safety from the side effects of drinking.

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