Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2007
Drunk driving takes a hit
Local government and higher education officials join forces in Bloomington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 28, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Local government and higher education leaders gathered in Bloomington Tuesday (Aug. 28) to announce enhanced efforts to prevent drinking and driving, and to provide Indiana University and Ivy Tech students with information and support concerning their alcohol choices.
With fall semester classes just beginning at IU and Ivy Tech, Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal kicked off his office's "Get a Ride!" campaign that includes advertisements on buses, public service announcements in the media, and posters and cards placed around the city as well as the IU and Ivy Tech campuses.
The message is one Gaal would like all Monroe County residents to take to heart. The timing of the kick off, however, caters to returning students to make them aware that the community does not tolerate drunk driving and that alternatives to driving drunk exist. The campaign logo encourages people to "Get a Ride! Call a Cab. Take the Bus. Just Don't Drink and Drive."
"We're trying to be proactive, not reactive," Gaal said. "We're trying to get out in front of the problem with education. It's also important to point out the cooperation involved -- two branches of government, IU and Ivy Tech coming together to address an issue of public safety."
Gaal was joined at a 2 p.m press conference by Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan; Richard McKaig, IU Bloomington' s dean of students and vice provost for student affairs; Dong-Chul Seo, an IU public health expert; and Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart.
"IU is pleased to support this project as a complement to our initiation of AlcoholEdu, a three-hour alcohol education course that every incoming freshman was required to take this year before classes began," McKaig said. "Together with our partners, we hope to reduce the occurrences of driving under the influence of alcohol in our community."
Below is a brief summary of the plans discussed at the press conference:
- City of Bloomington: City staff are distributing "Get a Ride!" informational handouts to neighborhoods and are hanging up posters throughout the community. "August is 'Be Friendly Bloomington' month," Kruzan said. "It's important that we put emphasis on keeping the city safe and looking after our friends. Driving drunk can cause a lot of pain and suffering not only to yourself, but to those around you as well." For more information, contact Maria Heslin, City of Bloomington Communications Director, at 812-349-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ivy Tech: Whikehart will discuss enhanced efforts by the college to provide alcohol-related information and counseling for its students, both those attending classes on the Ivy Tech campus and the estimated 200 students living in IU residence halls as part of the Hoosier Link program, which helps students transfer their credits from Ivy Tech to IU. "Ivy Tech supports the Get a Ride! campaign and is partnering with Indiana University and the community in an effort to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol," Whikehart said. For more information, contact Gerald Mitchell, 812-332-1559 or email@example.com.
- IU: McKaig and Seo, an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Health Science, will discuss the new AlcoholEdu course that incoming freshmen were required to take, other efforts to reduce excessive drinking, and the "Midnight Special," which is a bus the university makes available to students from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Seo received a $331,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Web-based class and research involving the reduction of high risk drinking on campus. For more information about the grant, contact Seo at 812-855-9379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monroe County Prosecutor: Gaal said it is important for people to be aware of the risks involved with drinking and driving. Recent statistics show that drunk driving continues to be a significant local problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 320 people (34 percent of all traffic deaths) died in alcohol-related crashes in the state of Indiana in 2005. Of all adults placed on probation in Monroe County during 2006, 37 percent were convicted of impaired driving -- 491 offenders. Of those, 12 percent were involved in a crash and 28 percent were repeat drunk driving offenders. "If you drink alcohol and drive, you risk hurting yourself, hurting someone else, losing your driver's license, arrest, a criminal conviction and jail," he said. For more information, contact Gaal at 812-349-2670.