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Letter to the Editor: HEAT believes BEER drive is effective

In response to last week’s article, “BEER Drive attempts to teach dangers of drunk driving,” we believe the piece did not represent the viewpoint of the student body as a whole.
The BEER (Bradley Educators Encouraging Responsibility) Drive has been an annual event hosted by Help, Empower and Teach for the past 10 years. In this year’s event, students were asked to complete a pre/post-questionnaire regarding information on drinking and driving.
Following the questionnaire, students were given fatal vision goggles, representing a 0.16 BAC, and proceeded to drive a golf cart through an obstacle course. After completing the course, trained HEAT peer leaders debriefed the participants while providing them with useful information such as how to prevent a friend from driving while under the influence, the consequences related to a DUI and the importance of utilizing a designated driver.
Additionally, resources were available to students during the event. Some of the resources offered were the SONOR cab cards, educational pamphlets on DUI and other alcohol related topics and BAC wheels.
The intent of the program was to not only provide students with accurate information regarding drinking and driving, but to also create a safe, hands-on environment where students could experience the destructive consequences of driving while under the influence.
This educational and fact-based approach is well documented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One concern voiced in the article was that our approach was too “soft and cuddly,” and therefore, techniques focused around emotion and fear might make a bigger impact.
However, according to researchers in the field, fear campaigns are extremely difficult to execute, rarely succeed and should be used only under limited circumstances. Indeed, they argue there is a real risk that fear appeals will backfire, making the problem behavior even more resistant to change.
In the post-questionnaire at this year’s BEER Drive, students were asked how beneficial they thought the event was. On a scale of 1 -5, with 5 being extremely beneficial, results averaged at 4.6.
Our program has been recognized locally and nationally as a recipient of Bradley’s Program of the Year in 2000, as well as the National Youth Traffic Safety Month Award in 2007. We are proud of this program’s development the past 10 years and the students that have been impacted by it. We look forward to future success in the coming years.
Ashley Porter
President of Bradley HEAT
Eric Miller
Vice President of Bradley HEAT
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