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Impaired Driving Prevention Volunteer

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An average of 30 people are killed by impaired drivers every day. That means that almost every 48 minutes, someone is killed by a drunk driver. This sobering statistic explains why so many students volunteer to help prevent drinking and driving.

"I run meetings, help organize different events and do various media things," says Shauntel McCall. She is president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at her high school.

SADD is an organization of young people who believe that youth leadership and a positive attitude are the best ways to save lives and prevent injuries caused by drinking and driving collisions.

"Student acceptance and interest in the drinking and driving prevention cause have been steadily increasing, and continue to," says Mike Fedyk. He is the SADD coordinator in his area.

McCall's group meets every week for half an hour. But McCall spends about two hours per week on SADD activities.

"We'll have poster parties and stuff like that," she explains. "At dances we'll run the coat check, sell mocktails, and members put in a half-hour shift."

"At my school, assemblies work well, so we bring in different motivational speakers," says Stephanie Curraro. She is president of SADD at her high school in Nassau, New York.

Originally SADD stood for Students Against Driving Drunk. In the U.S., the name has changed to reflect a wider mandate. It is now Students Against Destructive Decisions. About 350,000 student members actively participate in SADD chapters across the country.

Felicia Schneby is the head of alcohol and drug education programs for Nassau County. She introduced SADD to the county over 20 years ago. She says the best SADD volunteers are those who are committed to the cause.

"It has to be something that comes from the heart," she says. Schneby adds that good volunteers aren't afraid to stand out in the crowd.

"You've got to stand up for what you believe," echoes Trent Moser. He is president of SADD at his high school. "Don't let people intimidate you for sticking up for what you believe."

One New Year's Eve Shauntel McCall stayed up until 5 a.m. It sounds like quite a party, but McCall spent a lot of time simply driving home classmates who'd been drinking.

As a SADD leader, McCall is a trusted designated driver. "If I go to a party, people know I can drive them home," she says. "I'm designated driver all the time!"

McCall says she approaches students if they try to drive after drinking, and encourages them to find another way home. Her message is not always welcome. "I haven't had to beat anyone down," she says. "But sometimes they're really not too happy about it."

What made New Year's so memorable for McCall was that a couple of people phoned her the next day to thank her for her efforts. "That was nice," she says.

There was a time when Trent Moser was the guy driving home after drinking too much.

"I was coming home from a friend's -- me and my friend -- and I was an impaired driver. I was swerving all over the road. Then the car broke down," he remembers. "So luckily nothing happened."

The next day Moser realized he might not be so lucky again. "How stupid could I be?"

He says that experience has helped him in his volunteer work as a SADD leader. He knows how easy it can be to think "I'm fine" after having a drink or two.

Like McCall, Moser now speaks up to keep someone from drinking and driving. He has yet to be thanked for his trouble, but he says he doesn't do it for the thanks. "I feel good because I know I'm trying to do my best to stop impaired driving," he says.

As part of her SADD volunteer duties, Stephanie Curraro helps bring motivational speakers to her school. "I want people to leave the auditorium with positive feelings about themselves and what they can do," she says.

A few years ago, she found her inspiration at a national SADD conference in Washington. "It was four days, all expenses paid, and there were 400 kids there from all over the country!"

For Curraro, talking with other teens who were committed to the same cause gave her a goal for the future. "I want to become a politician and help people," she says.

How to Get Involved

SADD is just one of many organizations involved in impaired driving prevention. Others include Stop Impaired Driving and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

College and university students have their own student group for impaired driving prevention. It's called Bacchus, and it promotes the responsible use of alcohol.

"There aren't too many people on the planet who wouldn't say universities have issues with alcohol," says Bacchus coordinator Carmi Cimicata.

Cimicata joined Bacchus after the drinking-related death of a fellow university student.

"This is about peers talking to peers," she explains.




Stop Impaired Driving: National Highway Traffic Safety Association


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Find information on transportation issues in the U.S.

The Bacchus Network
Learn more about this college/university program, which focuses on health and safety issues

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Motor Vehicle Safety Impaired Driving
Some sobering statistics

Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center
Valuable tools and resources to improve community awareness

National Alcohol Beverage Control Association
Works for responsible policy decisions regarding alcohol

Drunk Driving Among Students and Teens - A Cheat Sheet
To-the-point facts about teens and drinking

State University of New York Potsdam, NY - Overview to drunk driving problem
Problems and solutions

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