(FULLERTON, May 12, 2006) — California State University, Fullerton has won the $1,000 regional prize in a competition among other colleges and universities in seven states to develop and implement programs to prevent student drinking and driving and alcohol abuse. This year, six schools were awarded a total of $10,000.
Cal State Fullerton earned the regional award for its Designated Driver/Sober Sidekick Program. The program was designed for CSUF students who consume alcohol on or near campus in places such as residence halls, fraternity or sorority (Greek) houses, campus sporting events, and local bars and restaurants. The students reported driving while intoxicated or getting in a car with an intoxicated driver.
"It's estimated about 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related causes. About 80 percent of those deaths are in traffic crashes, said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Automobile Club of Southern California. "Programs like Cal State Fullerton's are essential if drinking and driving statistics like those at CSUF are to be reduced."
Cal State Fullerton implemented the program that identifies ways to reduce harmful drinking situations, encourages party-goers to understand the importance of a designated driver, increases the number of Greek houses offering non-alcoholic options, and reduces the number of drivers leaving parties intoxicated, or driving home drunk or with a drunk driver. The program is facilitated by volunteers from several campus health and education groups. They volunteer to be designated drivers or sober sidekicks, who walk intoxicated party-goers back to university dorms.
In the next phase of this state-funded program, the school will be developing partnerships with the Fullerton Police Department and local alcohol retailers to increase the use of designated drivers and further reduce drinking and driving in the community.
"Cal State Fullerton's DUI prevention program provides an excellent model for other colleges and universities wishing to reduce drinking and driving and increase the use of designated drivers," Bloch added. "Its expansion into the community promises to further improve their efforts."
The Grand Prize of $5,000 was awarded to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Prizes of $1,000 each were awarded to other regional winners University of California, Irvine, New Mexico State University, University of North Texas and Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.
The College and University Drinking and Driving Prevention Awards is a joint program between the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Center for College Health and Safety, a national organization that provides assistance to colleges and universities. AAA Texas, AAA New Mexico, AAA Hawaii and AAA Northern New England also participate.