Drunk, drugged driving awareness highlighted

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month, a designation put in place to help educate people about how to stay safe on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 47 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in the state of Illinois involve alcohol.

When the Illinois Department of Transportation ran a survey in 2018, 26 percent of high school seniors in Illinois reported having ridden in a vehicle driven by someone- possibly themselves- who was drunk or high in the last year. Nine percent said they had driven after drinking at some point in the year, and 18 percent said they had driven after consuming marijuana.

College students were not surveyed in the same way that high school students were, but police reports indicate that in 2017, 57 percent of DUI offenders were under the age of 35.

In 2019, the 21-24 age group had the highest rate of DUI arrests in the state with around 6 out of every thousand arrests belonging to that group. Nineteen- and twenty-year-old drivers made up approximately four arrests out of each thousand.

After years of legislation and campaigns intended to end drunk and drugged driving, statistics show that deaths due to alcohol related incidents have fallen by less than half.

A lot of drunk driving prevention relies on individuals to be aware of their peer’s decisions.

Tips to keep your friends safe include talking to them while sober to try to be sure that they will not drive while impaired. Additionally, if a friend is drunk or drugged, try to calmly but firmly keep them from driving.

If the friend is determined or you’re worried that they’ll try to sneak away from you, some sites recommend that you steal their keys and hold on to them until the next day, just to make sure they won’t be able to drive.

If you’re going to a party, bar, or club, make sure that you bring enough money to pay for a taxi or Uber to get back at the end of the night. In an emergency, call someone else for help rather than taking the risk of trying to drive.

The use of, or addiction to, alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances can cause harm to the person drinking alcohol and/or doing drugs, as well as to the people around them. Because alcohol and drug dependency are such big issues, Eastern provides students and staff members who abuse the use of alcohol or drugs with a variety of ways to seek help or information.

According to Eastern’s Mandated and Student Consumer Information, help is available on campus through the University Counseling Center (217-581-3413), the Employee Assistance Program (1-866-659-3848), and other professional agencies.

Eastern’s Counseling Center provides students with short term alcohol and other drug counseling. If necessary, students may be referred to other treatment programs for more intensive treatment. The Employee Assistance Program offers Eastern’s employees with education, counseling, and appropriate referrals. These agencies will maintain the confidentiality of people seeking help and will not report them to institutional or state authorities.

On-campus resources that help with alcohol and drug use prevention and education include the Health Services’ Health Education Resource Center (217-581-7768), Eastern’s Counseling Center (217-581-3413), Eastern’s Office of Student Standards (217-581-3827), and Eastern’s Police Department (217-581-3213). They provide the Eastern community with a variety of individual, group, and community educational programs and interventions to help prevent and reduce alcohol and drug abuse.

Counseling, treatment, and educational programs are also available in the Charleston area. These alcohol and drug abuse counseling agencies include Central East Alcoholism and Drug Council (217-348-8108), Walter DUI and Counseling Services (217-348-3847), and ABBCON Counseling (217-345-3156). They provide a variety of services to help people in the Charleston area struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse which may include social setting detoxification, outpatient services, and remedial education.


Elizabeth Taylor and Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]