Safe-rides program faces trials, lacks funds

Student Government Association members trying to create a safe-rides program, which would provide transportation for students under the influence of substances, could face funding and liability issues.Approximately 30 percent of undergraduates report having driven under the influence, said Angela Taylor, director of the Alcohol & Drug Education Center.

“The important thing is that we have a program that reduces potential harm and does not enable other high-risk behaviors,” Taylor said.

The program they hope to create will offer a free, safe and non-judgmental service to impaired students and students who don’t want to ride with an impaired driver, said Mark Tschirhart, a junior math major.

Well-established safe-ride programs include Texas A&M University’s Caring Aggies R Protecting Over Our Lives (CARPOOL) and programs from universities involved in Safe Rides Programs United, Tschirhart said.

Money is the most important factor in starting and maintaining the safe-rides program, said Brian Andrew , a senior international economics, history and finance major.

“All of the viable options (we’ve) looked at so far cost thousands of dollars, and the money needs to come from somewhere,” Andrew said.

Scholarships, grants and alumni donations are possible sources for funding, but nothing has been finalized, Taylor said.

“Over the past 10 years, we have explored many options, but it seems that funding, liability and logistical issues have blocked the progress of any initiative that has been put forth,” Taylor said.

In a February 2006 Skiff article, Student Development Services and Campus Life said a safe-rides program, implemented through SGA, was not feasible because students could not be responsible for driving other students.

Michael Russel, associate dean of campus life, said safe-ride programs provide a risk that is not necessary for the university to assume, according to the article.

According to the article, SGA planned to run its safe-ride program through Five Star Coach, the same company that now provides shuttles from commuter lots on campus. SGA planned to offer free transportation to anyone with a TCU ID from Sundance Square and other areas back to campus Thursday through Saturday nights.

Possible funding options for this program were Mothers Against Drunk Driving or a university parent’s club, according to the article.

It is unclear when any safe-rides plans will become a reality, Andrew said.