By Tiffany Riggs, Assistant Section Editor
Like many ideas, the concept of designated drivers sounds good in theory, but the execution is often flawed. I was out one Saturday night, and my friend and designated driver had just left with someone and I was stuck thinking, “Now how am I going to get home?”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a designated driver plan go wrong. When you’ve been drinking, it’s hard to be responsible. Luckily for me, I could get out my cell, dial 475-RIDE and give my student I.D. number and the address of my location. An hour and a half later my roommate and I piled into the taxi, flashed our UNL student I.D.’s and gave our apartment’s address. It was that easy.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska Wesleyan students have access to a free ride home, covered by student fees, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. when necessary. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has the 475-RIDE program, and Wesleyan has Wesleyan Wheels. Both programs are intended to be a last resort for students who have been drinking and need a ride home. Over the past few years, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska or ASUN, has been upset over the popularity of the program and claim that the funding is drained and the program isn’t being used as intended.
The program is an admirable endeavor. We can all agree that providing an alternative to drunk driving is a worthy cause. But let’s look past the idea and examine how it will be done. Campus Security Manager Paul Kosel said that even though DUI’s occasionally occur on campus, they aren’t frequent enough to warrant implementation of a safe ride program.
“It’s difficult to say if we need a safe ride program,” Kosel said. “It wouldn’t hurt, but there isn’t a big enough demand.”
The Lincoln safe ride programs are funded through student fees. That means for a similar program to be in place at UNO, student fees will have to be increased for the whole student body. The Lincoln fees are barely over a dollar for this program. However, ASUN has said that over the past few years, the program has been overused and underfunded. If UNO wants to avoid this problem then the fees will need to be substantially higher.
It’s also important to consider the size of Omaha compared to Lincoln. UNO students live in a wider area compared to Lincoln students. The cab fees would be much higher than the $15 average safe ride cost in Lincoln. Possibly, there could be restraints on the radius that safe ride encompasses, but that would mean that students outside that radius would pay for a program they essentially can’t use.
I hate to bash a successful program that I have used, but the truth is the program wouldn’t work as well for UNO students as it has been for UNL and Nebraska Wesleyan students. If your DD bails on you, call a cab. It will be cheaper than a DUI.