Study shows students are drinking less, drinking and driving more

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The most recent data from the National College Health Assessment indicates students are drinking less, but drinking and driving more.

There has been a six percent increase in the number of students that report drinking and driving from 2014-2016, according to the National College Health Assessment.

Laura Bohannon

There has been a six percent increase in the number of students that report drinking and driving from 2014-2016, according to the National College Health Assessment.

According to the study, there has been a 9 percent decrease in the number of students that report drinking from 2000 to 2016, said University Student Commission Member Julia Porter.

At the Oct. 18 East Lansing City Council meeting, Porter said a higher percentage of students have reported drunken driving in the most recent assessment.

“While from 2000 to 2014 there was a decrease in the number of drunk drivers of students, from 2014 to 2016 there’s actually been a 6 percent increase in the number of students who report driving after drinking,” Porter said.

In a recent interview, East Lansing Police Department Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said he’s surprised there aren’t more incidents with drunken or distracted drivers in East Lansing.

Drunken driving arrests in East Lansing have decreased from 2012-2015, according to Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth.

Laura Bohannon

Drunken driving arrests in East Lansing have decreased from 2012-2015, according to Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth.

In a separate interview, Wriggelsworth said drunken driving arrests are down in recent years.

Wriggelsworth also said the ELPD staff isn’t as large now, so arrests aren’t necessarily an accurate depiction of the number of people who drive drunk.

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier encourages students to use taxis or services like Uber if they’re out at night, specifically if they’re drinking.

She also said students should have a friend who hasn’t been drinking come and pick them up.

“Make a deal with two or three people who you can always call,” Beier said.

Porter said most students who reported driving after drinking live off campus.

“Most of the people, like I said at the City Council meeting, who are drunk driving are older students or graduate students who live off campus,” Porter said.

19.1 percent of students reported feeling "very safe" off campus at night in the National College Health Assessment.

Laura Bohannon

Porter said the University Student Commission is interested in educating students on the dangers of drinking and driving.

“There was a campaign against drunk driving, and that decreased the rates of drunk driving among students,” she said.

Porter said she isn’t sure when that campaign stopped, but the University Student Commission is interested in implementing a similar campaign.

“Now the rates are up again, of students drunk driving. So obviously the campaign and (the) information getting out was helpful in decreasing these rates of drunk driving,” she said.

“We want people to look out for each other, and just keep East Lansing safe in general and the drunk driving and stuff like that is just kind of a part of it,” Porter said.

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