HERO encourages designated drivers
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
In 2000, recent Naval Academy graduate John Elliot was killed by a drunk driver on his way home to New Jersey for his mother’s birthday. As a result, his parents created the HERO organization with the goal of reducing drunk driving, according to Allison Clare, the program’s college coordinator, which the university recently decided to partner with.
Clare said the nonprofit organization aims to prevent drunk driving accidents by educating people about the dangers of drinking and driving.
“Our mission is to prevent drunk driving tragedies by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers,” she said.
Since 2000, DUI-related accidents have decreased in New Jersey, the state where the organization is based, Clare said.
A HERO tent was set up at university football home games during the last two Saturdays. The stand will be in front of the stadium for other home games, Clare said.
Several university police officers were in the tents, which have information on drunk driving, as well as car decals for students, who could sign a vow stating that they will be designated drivers for friends.
Chief of Public Safety Patrick Ogden said approximately 175 students visited the tent and signed the HERO pledge at the first game, and 237 signed at the second. He said he considered it a solid turnout.
Ogden also said a key part of preventing drinking and driving is using ingenuity when trying to teach people about the dangers.
“I think you have to be creative in getting the message out and let people know it can happen to you,” Ogden said.
According to Ogden, there were 386 DUI arrests and 10 alcohol-related accidents from Sept. 12 last year to Sept. 12 this year in Newark. Of those, six students received DUIs.
Ogden said the individuals involved in drunk driving accidents or arrests frequently say that they never expected it to happen to them.
Sophomore Amanda Stevenson said she does not think drunk driving is prevalent at the university. She said she thinks it is more common when people are at home and have to drive to parties.