WSGA offers Safe Ride program for Washburn students

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol use is widespread among college students. The NIAAA reports that 4 out of 5 students between the ages of 18 and 24 consume alcohol regularly with more than half of those students consuming alcohol through “binge drinking.”

Megan Dortch

There are many differing perceptions of the Safe Ride program provided by Washburn University. The Washburn Student Government Association funds Safe Ride with money from student activity fees. Because of this, only those currently enrolled at Washburn and attending classes on the main campus are eligible to use the service.

Information about the Safe Ride program is not well-known to some Washburn students. Many students aren’t even know that the program exists or what the guidelines and parameters are for accessing the service.

I’ve heard of Safe Ride, but not much. I don’t even know the number,” said Danielle Brown, senior mass media major. “It’s a good idea but not well implemented. I’ve never even heard of anyone that’s actually used it.”

Since the program started, faculty has been working to spread the word. Thus far, students have been receptive to idea.

“I heard about it in WU 101. I think it’s a good thing to have because people in college are going to drink, and I’m glad WU can recognize that,” said Madison Wambsganss, sophomore mass media major. “It’s a good thing to have a service like that to help people. It brings awareness to drunk driving and it’s a way to encourage students to get a taxi instead of driving themselves while intoxicated.”

Safe Ride is a taxi service that will pick up a student and passengers from any Topeka area drinking establishment between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Safe Ride is a free service, but does charge a $5 ‘no show’ fee if a student calls and doesn’t accept the ride.

To use the service, students must provide their Washburn ID number and destination when calling for a pick up. The taxi driver will check the WU ID number when the student enters the cab to make sure that the student is currently enrolled.

Only one person in the taxi must present a valid Washburn ID. This student may bring any number of passengers with them or up to the amount that the taxi can seat. Safe Ride will not pick up students and other passengers from any residential area, as pick-ups are limited to drinking establishments only. Safe Ride will also not drop students or passengers off at drinking, business, eating establishments after pick up. They will only drop off the passengers at one residential area per taxi. The drivers will not report any instances of underage drinking to Topeka or campus police.

“I have heard about it. I think it’s a good and safe option,” said senior psychology major Hayley Harris. “The hard thing is that a lot of people don’t seem to know about it or if they do know about it, when they are drinking they don’t think about it. Then if they drove, they don’t want to leave their car at a bar over night.”

As Topeka police continue to increase saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints to combat drunk driving, and alcohol- related accidents continue to rise, a service like Safe Ride becomes integral to student and community safety.

“WSGA provides this service because we value the safety of our students and community members,” White said. “We know that drunk, buzzed or otherwise impaired driving presents serious dangers to everyone on the road. Hopefully, this program can help prevent students from making life-altering poor decisions.”