Letter: Editoral suggestion not practical

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

The editors of the DAILY EGYPTIAN have a wonderful idea with regard to the designated driver program they suggested the school should organize.

I think we should expand it even more. Perhaps the person getting the ride home should be required to pay a nominal fee for the service to compensate the school for the costs of gas and upkeep of the vehicle. Perhaps even a little extra, because as we all know, there are athletic department buildings that need constructing. It may even be a good idea to paint the cars a particular color to as make them easily distinguishable from the other cars near the bar. Might I suggest yellow with black checks? Maybe go as far as to print a logo on the door?

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Perhaps to save space on the side of the door, we can shorten the name through acronym.

Seriously, though, there is good potential for liability to the school if the idea was to be implemented. First off, many insurance policies would not cover a stranger driving someone’s car. Second, should the designated driver wreck, or (being mindful of statistics) when the designated driver wrecks, the school could be held liable for the damage to the vehicle and the injuries to its occupants. The school could probably defeat these claims, but the costs associated with the legal action could be quite high.

The volunteer may be held individually liable as well. This may dissuade many volunteers from offering their time and services; it certainly would dissuade me.

Additionally, who is to pay for these services? We are already experiencing a record setting amount of fee increases to fund Saluki Way. The school is considering discontinuing the women’s transit program partially because it was cost prohibitive. People just were not using the program. Do you really think that people would use this one either? Sober people at night failed to utilize a safe ride. Is it reasonable to suggest that inebriated people will take the responsibility and make the call?

During my time working for the Jackson County state’s attorney, I saw first hand the problems associated with drunken driving in southern Illinois. I am not devaluing the efforts to make a change, but a program such as the one suggested by the editorial would not solve the problem. It would be under utilized, create liability and would add additional costs to the already drained financial resources of this university. Should the fraternities and sororities decide to expand their programs, perhaps the idea may be feasible, though they would have to be willing to accept the associated responsibility, costs and liability.

No program or idea should displace the importance of personal responsibility. The lack of personal responsibility among many of the local bar patrons lead me to believe that even if a safe ride home were provided, most people who are willing to drink and drive without the program will continue to do so after its inception.

Justin Raver third year law student

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