MU DUIs at lowest since 2001 as STRIPES nears 200,000 rides

Nearly 40 percent of college students said they had ridden in a car with a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Photo illustration of drunk driving culture.

The number of DUI arrests of MU students in Columbia since the student-run safe ride program STRIPES was founded in 2001 has decreased, according to data put out by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

With the exceptions of 2005, 2010 and 2012, the number of DUI arrests by the highway patrol has dropped each year since a spike in DUIs in 2003. In 2015, MU saw the lowest number of DUIs in at least 14 years, with only 118 arrests made.

While the number of arrests have gone down, STRIPES has had a consistent number of rides given each year. STRIPES Marketing Coordinator Maris Smith said “with downtown housing options increasing every year,” their annual numbers have remained consistent.

STRIPES has given a total of over 190,000 rides since 2001, and they hope to reach 200,000 this year. Any MU student can use the program, which promises to drive students home in a “safe, nonjudgmental” environment.

Though STRIPES is a student-run organization, it does play a role in how MU addresses alcohol abuse and works to prevent DUIs. "STRIPES is a critical part of our alcohol prevention program," said Major Brian Weimer, MU Police Department's public information officer.

As one of the major health issues facing college students, drunk driving continues to plague many campuses across the country.

In a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly one out of every five college students admitted to driving drunk, while nearly 40 percent said they had gotten in a car with a drunk driver behind the wheel.

Roughly 1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related circumstances, many of which involve vehicle crashes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Colleges try to lower the amount of alcohol abuse by students by creating programs aimed at preventing drug and alcohol consumption on campus. For example, MU’s Wellness Resource Center offers various alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs, according to MU’s website.

This year, STRIPES received recognition for its 15 years of work when they won the Southeastern Conference Auxiliary of the Year award.

STRIPES is one of many student-run safe driving programs across the country. Founded in 2001, STRIPES was inspired by the first safe-driving program, Texas A&M University’s CARPOOL, according to the STRIPES website.

CARPOOL was founded in 1999, after a Texas A&M student received a DWI and was inspired to create a “free, nonjudgmental” safe-drive-home program for students to use after a night of drinking, according to CARPOOL’s website.

There are currently 15 universities associated with CARPOOL’s safe driving program, according to their website.

Going forward, the organization’s goal is simple: they want to “continue to serve Columbia and Mizzou. We hope to continue to provide Mizzou students with a safe ride home for many years to come,” Smith said.

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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