Irvine, Calif., Feb. 15, 2012 California reported the largest decline in drunk-driving deaths of any state in the nation in 2010, according to recent statistics, and a $232,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to UC Irvine's Health Education Center is helping to keep the trend on track.
In partnership with the RADD College DUI Awareness Program, UCI has organized nine universities into a consortium over the last two years to prevent and promote alternatives to drinking and driving. The new funding will allow UCI to add four more campuses to the effort this year.
"Students are receptive to the program because we don't tell them what not to do," said Doug Everhart, interim director and alcohol programs manager at UCI's Health Education Center. "Instead, we point out what they can do. If they're going out and choose to drink, they need to assign a designated driver, take a taxi, walk to the event, or have some other plan for getting there and back safely."
The ideas are not a particularly hard sell at UCI. Nearly half the students don't drink alcohol at all, according to surveys, and only a small percentage participate in high-risk behaviors. "We have a respectful culture here that's receptive to these positive alternatives, which helps us maintain a safe campus community," Everhart said.
With its initial grant of $451,000, UCI engaged UC Davis, Cal State Sacramento, USC, Cal State Fullerton, San Diego State, UC San Diego, the University of San Diego and Cal State San Marcos in the endeavor.
"We saw the San Diego region as a model," said Kristin Mendoza, grants project coordinator at UCI's Health Education Center, "because it had representation from a UC, the Cal State system and a private university. So this year we're looking to replicate that by adding the University of the Pacific in the Sacramento area and UCLA and Cal State Northridg
|Contact: Cathy Lawhon|
University of California - Irvine