Drinking with friends can be a fun way to unwind from demanding college classes. However, responsible drinking is key any time alcohol is involved. Drunken driving compromises the safety of everyone on the road.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 270 people were killed in Missouri traffic accidents involving alcohol in 2006.
"Families are torn apart every year due to the carelessness of drunk drivers," said Phaedra Marriott, director of victim services for Missouri Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Drunken driving is not only a safety concern; it carries serious legal consequences. Someone found guilty of driving while intoxicated can face costly legal fees, mandatory classes, probation, revocation of driving privileges or up to four years in jail for repeat offenders.
To help combat drunken driving among students, the CHEERS and STRIPES programs were created. CHEERS encourages designated drivers by providing free nonalcoholic drinks to the designated driver in a group of two or more people.
There are currently 21 CHEERS collegiate chapters across Missouri. Several restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Columbia participate in the program. A complete list of participating locations can be found at cheers.missouri.edu.
STRIPES, which stands for Supportive Tigers Riding in Pursuit of Ensuring Safety, is operated by MU student volunteers.
STRIPES provides free rides to anyone with a MU student ID. STRIPES will pick up someone from any location within the Columbia city limits. Once the STRIPES car picks a student up, the volunteers will only drive the student to his or her home, not another bar or party.
STRIPES operates Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the fall and spring semesters. In a typical night, STRIPES has six cars available for rides. Two student volunteers ride in each car. STRIPES volunteers who are not driving cars answer the phones at the STRIPES office located in Brady Commons at MU.
To get a ride from STRIPES, call 442-9672. STRIPES allows people to call before going out if they know they will be needing a ride later.
Martin Kidd, general manager of Bengals Bar and Grill, said STRIPES helps keep roads and students safe. Kidd, who has been in the bar industry for 14 years, said he has noticed the impact STRIPES has had on his clientele.
"When I started out in this line of work, I would never see cars in the parking lot from the night before," Kidd said. "But now, there are usually several cars in the lot from when I get to work in the morning. People are more responsible now."