Drink, drive, die: the collegiate epidemic

By Carley Thieret | Student Columnist 

Amber Campbell kneels next to her other daughter, Gracie, 4. Ava Campbell’s death after being hit by a drunk driver has sparked concern that people, especially college students, are not choosing responsible methods of transportation when drinking.

Amber Campbell kneels next to her other daughter, Gracie, 4. Ava Campbell’s death after being hit by a drunk driver has sparked concern that people, especially college students, are not choosing responsible methods of transportation when drinking.

Ava Campbell was six years old when she was killed by an underage drunk driver. She was leaving a playdate with her mom when the driver struck and killed her as she was standing in the driveway.

When I see things like this on the news, I’ll think about them for a second, but then I move on to whatever else is going on in my life that day.

However, this tragedy hit home for me.

This happened in Shaler, a municipality 10 minutes away from Duquesne, and 10 minutes away from where I grew up in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. What stuck with me even more was that the driver was 20, underage and drunk.

I think about how often college students carry with them the mentality that “it will never happen to me.” That feeling of being invincible. The feeling of drinking multiple beers, taking shots and consuming mixed drinks, all without knowing how much alcohol is going into their bodies. What college students often don’t think about is the consequences of their actions and the effects they have on others when they drink and drive.

In 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the United States. According to U.S. Department of Transportation, alcohol-impaired driving cases account for 31 percent of total motor vehicle fatalities in the country. Like Ava Campbell, a total of 181 children under the age of 14 were killed in alcohol related driving crashes in 2011.

The decisions people make when under the influence not only affect themselves but the lives of others as well. Preventative measures should be taken to ensure that college students, and anyone else drinking alcohol, do not put themselves or others in danger. Nobody should have to experience the loss that the family of Ava Campbell has.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft are taking part in the initiative to decrease drunk driving deaths by offering discount rates, as well as contributing research to the cause. A recent study done by Temple University showed that Uber X, Uber’s cheapest service, reduced drunk driving fatalities. The study used data from the California Highway Commission that found Uber’s greatest impact has been in large cities. Pittsburgh being a large city could be a target market for these findings to be put into action, especially with night-life destinations such as the South Side, Lawrenceville and Station Square.

According to this study, since the implementation of Uber X, there has been a 3.6 to 5.6 percent decrease in the rate of motor vehicle homicides per quarter in the state of California. With the amount that people, and especially college students, are on their phones and utilizing technology, Uber and Lyft are great resources to utilize after spending a night out drinking. Although they might cost more than driving, it is worth it in the long run if it saves a life.

People often don’t know how many drinks is too many to get behind the wheel. There are websites and applications where people can enter how many drinks they have had along with the type of drinks, and it will let them know if it is safe to drive.

Ava Campbell’s parents are advocating on social media for something that they are calling #Ava’sLaw that calls for stricter laws for DUI’s and underage drinking to avoid other families having to go through what they are. They spread their message through outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, pushing for change while keeping Ava’s memory alive.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!