Safety program adds extra dimension

Florida A&M University’s “Safely Ride or Die” campaign, which is aimed at encouraging students against drinking and driving, is launching a new program this summer – one targeted specifically at incoming freshmen.

The campaign, entitled, AlcoholEdu program, is a three-hour Web based program that teaches freshmen the dangers of underage drinking.

“The major incentive for this program is to make your family and friends not void of you in the future,” said Charles Wright, coordinator and director of the campaign.

The campaign kicked off in the fall of 2007 and will end in the spring of 2009.

Wright said statistics show that 66 percent of freshmen who enter college do not drink. But by the end of the fall semester that percentage decreases to 40.

“This program is awesome,” said Dee Jackson, a ” Safely Ride or Die” coordinator.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds the program. The campaign received a $1.5 million grant that spans over a five-year period.

Since the campaign has launched, coordinators have gotten more than 1,000 students to pledge that they won’t drink and drive.

They have gotten students to get involved by hosting mock car accidents, seminars and surveys.

FAMU students created a video for the program called “Effects on Families,” which showed the consequences of driving under the influence.

It tells the story of three college students on their way back to visit their high school. While driving, they are drinking and consequently two of the three students die.

“The video has shed light on what happens when driving under the influence and how it effects the people that love you,” Jackson said.

“Safely Ride or Die” targets black students between the ages of 18 and 24.

Along with getting students to pledge, coordinators have distributed more than 500 T-shirts, wristbands, and bags. The campaign team gave out $100 to students around campus who wore campaign T-shirts.

“This campaign has taught me to value my life and make wise decisions,” said Kendra Stallworth, 20, a junior physical therapy student from Tallahassee.