Don’t Be Stupid … Don’t Drink and Drive

By Rachael Smith, Student at Radford University

I’m sure you have been hearing those classic commercials over and over again warning people to not drink and drive. It’s almost like a broken record hearing the same message over and over again.

However, I don’t think some of us even realize how many people do get hurt and killed because of one person’s stupidity. I think for most of us, when we hear that someone has been injured or killed because of drunken driving, our instincts tell us to feel sad and we think for a moment or two about the surviving families and then go on with our routine.

I was the same way until I heard two different stories.

Sarah Panzau has come to speak at both my high school and my college. She was the one who finally got me to start listening. Panzau was in a car accident after drinking and driving in 2003. When she was taken to the hospital, she was given a 0 percent survival rate. Panzau broke parts of her jaw, pieces of her ear were torn off, she crushed her right rib cage and lost most of her left arm. She had been offered more than 20 scholarships to play volleyball in college. Now she goes all over the country speaking to the youth wearing gym shorts and a tank top to show everyone just how bad her injuries were.

The second speaker who impacted my life on drinking and driving was Mark Sterner. I also heard him speak while I was in high school, and six years later, I still will never forget his story. Sterner and three of his fraternity brothers headed to spring break months before graduation. Every night the boys would decide who was the least drunk and they would be the DD. The last night of the trip, it was Sterner. He ended up killing all three of his friends and was charged with three felony counts of manslaughter.

Have you ever heard of your friends joke and say: “I’m a good drunk driver?" That’s just an oxymoron. How can you be good at driving drunk? I knew a guy who used to say that in high school and everyone counted on him to drive them home. I even got into the car with him once. Now that all of my friends are 21 and older and we go to the bars now, we have found that cabs are the best way to go. We all just split the cost and it ends up being pretty cheap.

Check out a few of these options if you are out drinking and need a way home.

Install this App
Cab4me works with cab companies across the United States and is available on iPhone and Android. If you split a cab with a few friends, it shouldn’t cost you too much and it’s never worth the risk to drink and drive. If you ever hurt anyone innocent, it would be too painful to live with. Splurge on a cab if you need one!

The DD
Sometimes when the word “Designated Driver” is mentioned, everyone in the room seems to turn away trying to avoid eye contact. But sometimes there are going to be people who don’t feel like getting wasted and are willing to take people home. Figure out who these people are ahead of everyone else and you might be guaranteed a spot in their car. Otherwise, by the end of the night, everyone will be begging for a ride. Also, make sure to shower that person with gratitude — it takes a big person to take care of a carload of drunks.

This only applies if you are at a house party, not a bar or club. Owners will not appreciate drunken girls passed out on their floor. At a party I go to every year, the host always offers everyone to sleep over, which is very smart and generous. It’s easy for her because she doesn’t have to provide anything other than a few blankets and pillows and most people are out in the morning right when they wake up because they are desperate for their own bed and shower. If you are the host of a house party, at least offer guests a place on the floor.

A few other tips …
If you are the DD and are having one or two drinks, make sure to drink water in between. Check your tires and brakes before driving. Also, be extra cautious of other drivers on the road. Keep your radio low/off and stay alert!

Police say they don’t wish to ruin people’s evenings and that they only want to keep us safe. So if you come to a checkpoint on your way to or from a party, just stay calm and cooperate. These checkpoints could save your life.

Have fun while you’re young, but make sure to be smart and have a plan. You have the rest of your life to live!

Image courtesy of xedos4 /

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