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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CatsRIDDE may finally launch in fall

    Next semester, students may finally be able to get home safely after a night of drinking if CatsRIDDE can find sponsors to fund the service and create a training program for its volunteers over the summer.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona provided the program’s director a stipend, but has otherwise provided no other financial support. CatsRIDDE was first introduced two years ago as a senate project and is now under ASUA Programs and Services, said Jami Reinsch, ASUA administrative vice president.

    CatsRIDDE (Realizing the Importance of a Designated Driving Escort) is similar conceptually to SafeRide, but SafeRide is funded through ASUA, pays its drivers and dispatchers and is not allowed to transport students who are intoxicated because of insurance liabilities, Reinsch said.

    “”We are providing a free, safe, nonjudgmental ride home. If students walk home or drive while intoxicated, they put themselves and others at risk.””
    – Marci Macaraeg,
    CatsRIDDE director

    For the CatsRIDDE program to exist, ASUA will need volunteers to be drivers and dispatchers, for which students can receive community service hours. This presents a problem of recruiting enough people to run the program, which will hopefully be solved by having different clubs and student organizations sign up to participate one or two Saturdays per semester.

    The program at the UA is now being modeled after a Texas A&M University program started in 1999, called CARPOOL (Caring Aggies R Protecting Over Our Lives), which hosts an annual conference called Safe Ride Programs United where students get together to discuss safe ride programs at their school. Along with CatsRIDDE, there are seven other CARPOOL sister programs at universities around the country.

    Reinsch and CatsRIDDE director Marci Macaraeg attended the conference and presented ideas to the ASUA Senate on how to improve the UA program.

    The only obstacles remaining before the program can begin are securing funding and creating the training program, which Macaraeg hopes to do over the summer.

    Macaraeg said it would only cost $4,000 to provide the service next semester on Saturdays only.

    One of the unique things about the CARPOOL program is the partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which offers a discounted rate to rent vehicles to run the service.

    According to the presentation to the ASUA Senate after the conference, Enterprise offers the discount to build their business locally.

    Macaraeg met with UAPD Chief Anthony Daykin, who said he supports the program and UAPD will not target CatsRIDDE vehicles because students are getting home safely, unless the driver is speeding or there is some other violation.

    Andrew Valenzuela, a UAPD field training officer, said the majority of people arrested for driving under the influence are not students, and he does not believe CatsRIDDE will decrease the number of DUI arrests.

    Valenzuela said he believes that students might drink more and rely on the program as a crutch, or use it as an excuse to go over the limit. He also said that while students might be provided a safe ride home, intoxication puts students at risk regardless, and there may be repercussions other than a hangover.

    Despite these concerns, Valenzuela said he thinks students’ initiative to be involved is commendable.

    “”It is not a negative thing, and these are brave students,”” Valenzuela said. “”We’re for anything that will reduce the number of alcohol-related collisions.””

    Another concern is that the program will be knowingly transporting students under 21 years old who are intoxicated, but organizers said the main goal of the program is to provide a safe environment.

    “”We are providing a free, safe, nonjudgmental ride home,”” Macaraeg said. “”If students walk home or drive while intoxicated, they put themselves and others at risk.””

    Macaraeg also said that drivers will be trained to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning and will call for help if a student needs it. Additionally, the drivers’ safety is also a concern, and if passengers become belligerent, rides can be terminated at any time. Each vehicle will be required to have a male and a female volunteer present at all times.

    There are other small obstacles for students to be able to use the program, such as having to sign a waiver at least 24 hours before using the service.

    Reinsch said by promoting the service at freshman orientation and having them sign waivers there, students would be safe from the start. The waiver is available for download on the ASUA CatsRIDDE Web site at web.asua.arizona.edu/~ridde.

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