Taking the Driving Out of “Drinking and Driving”

Screen shot 2014-07-08 at 1.06.15 PM                                                                                                        image via Flickr

Austin is known for its partying ways. With its enormous college student population and numerous annual festivals, the city consistently ranks amongst the hardest-drinking cities in America. Texas, it turns out, also consistently leads the nation in drunk driving deaths. Since it doesn’t appear that we will stop drinking anytime soon, why not make it easier to stop driving? That’s the opinion Sommer Mathis posed recently in Atlantic Cities: “Tough DUI laws can only go so far if we don’t give people—especially young people—reasonable alternatives in the first place.”

In the article, Mathis states that her “whole concept of what’s acceptable” was altered after moving to a city “in which there is basically no excuse ever to drink and drive:” the transportation option-laden Washington DC. The political discussion on transit investment often focuses on reducing congestion, improving air quality, and spurring economic development, Mathis notes, “but nowhere has anyone been making the case that giving people more and better options not to drive is a massive public safety issue.”

This is exactly the case being made by a new local advocacy coalition called ATX Safer Streets. Formed in the wake of several drunk driving deaths earlier this year, ATX Safer Streets is advocating for “a better bus, train, and taxi system in Austin,” with the belief that better options are key to reducing drunk drivers on the roads. More travel options means more opportunities to make responsible choices.

In the meantime, if you plan to drink…plan to ride. Here are some choices available to you right now: The City of Austin’s Safe Transportation Options website helps you find late night transit options and other services like taxis, pedicabs, even designated driver services. It also explains overnight parking rules, if you absolutely can’t figure out how to leave your car at home. Cap Metro also has Late Riding info on its website. So there is no excuse – make a plan to get home safely before you go out.

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