Students find ways around drunk driving

Jessica Rothschuh

Although Bradley’s Cabby has been in operation for three years, owner Brad Johnson noticed a “dramatic increase” in calls as this semester began.

“We hit the ground running full-speed,” he said. It usually takes a month or so for business to pick up after the summer.

“We’re actually in the market to buy two new cars, which will increase our services by 75 percent,” Johnson said.

Bradley’s Cabby is a taxi service based in Streetsboro, but Johnson said it does the majority of its business in Kent. He said 50 to 75 percent of its business is taking people home from the bars. He doesn’t care why people call, as long as they are safe.

“I’ve driven drunk many times,” said Justin Boykin, senior photo illustration major. “I know it’s bad, but I live just down the street. I just don’t feel like walking.”

Boykin isn’t alone. Only 55 percent of Kent State students surveyed reported never driving a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol.

Even fewer, 43 percent have never rode in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking, according to the Alcohol and Drug Survey of Kent State University Undergraduates, conducted in June 2004.

“I wish we had a great transportation system,” said Charlie Thomas, owner of Ray’s Place bar. When customers get visibly intoxicated at his bar, the bartenders will cut them off.

And when they need a ride, Thomas gives them the phone number for Bradley’s Cabby.

“I think everybody should know about it,” Thomas said. “I hope he makes a million dollars. I think it’s one of the best things to happen here.”

For some students, walking isn’t a hassle. Senior technology major Ty Burin said he only lives a few blocks away from downtown Kent.

“I walk every time,” Burin said. “It’s a lot more fun to walk and see who you run into.”

But when students are too far from home to walk and can’t find a ride, driving drunk can be tempting.

“I’m as cautious as I can be,” Boykin said about driving home after he has been drinking. He has never had an accident, and said he walks if he knows he can’t drive.

Burin said he calls somebody or antes up for a taxi when he is far from home.

For senior aeronautics major Jake Papp, driving isn’t an option.

“Pass out in your car,” Papp suggested. “You don’t drink and drive. It’ll tarnish you forever.”

Papp said he used to take a late-night bus, often referred to by students as the “drunk bus,” back to campus.

“I’d like to see the drunk bus back up again,” he said.

Papp said he thought they stopped running the “drunk bus” over two years ago, but Joe Yensel, assistant operations manager of Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, said there are still buses that run between downtown Kent and the residence halls.

“We have the Downtowner that runs Thursday and Friday nights,” Yensel said. “The last run out of downtown is at 1:57 a.m.”

The Downtowner stops at the Kent Student Center, Eastway and the Music and Speech Building before heading down Main Street.

Whichever way students choose to get home, Scott Dotterer, coordinator for the Office of Health Promotion, said the emphasis should be on planning ahead.

“Clearly designate a driver,” Dotterer said. “It is something that you hear all the time, but it’s so important.”

Students should watch out for one another and stick to a plan, Dotterer said.

The Office of Health Promotion will host a speaker for National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. Michael Gershe, whose mother was killed by a drunk driver, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the KIVA, Dotterer said.

Contact news correspondent Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].