Drunk driving: No one is safe

By Catherine Pinyot | gargoyle@flagler.edu

There’s a truck in the lobby.

That’s what was running through Michael Lyons’ mind as he looked up from the cash register of the nation’s most famous fast food joint, he told the St. Augustine Record.

It was November 2nd, 2013, and Lyons was performing his managerial duties at the McDonalds Restaurant on North Ponce De Leon Blvd, when an intoxicated thirty six year old woman mistook the giant glass window for the drive-through lane.

Shards of glass surrounded a tan Toyota Tacoma in the middle of McDonalds. A woman reeking of alcohol sat stunned in the driver’s seat.

“It surprised me how unexcited I was,” Lyons told the St. Augustine Record. “It was like, OK, there’s a truck in the lobby.”

Approximately 300,000 people drive under the influence each day, According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.). Each year, 10,288 people are killed and 350,000 people are injured by drunk driving. “Driving under the influence” is defined as having a blood-alcohol-concentration of .08. At .08, muscle coordination become poor, danger becomes harder to detect, and judgment is impaired

The problem with drunk driving is that its consequences reach further than just the driver. Drunk driving has a domino effect.

Ashlee Mergler, a sophomore at Flagler College, was rounding the corner of Dunes Cracker House to the spot where she had parked her Acura when she did a double take. It was gone.

Mergler made the smart decision of walking home with a friend. But, the police later discovered her smashed Acura in the woods nearby. It had been stolen by an intoxicated customer of Dunes.

“I suffered from stress because of one drunk driver. I pretty much lost my social life for a month, ” Mergler said.

Mergler is one of many college students across the nation who hits the bars to start off the weekend, or to celebrate Monday’s completion or “thirsty Thursday.” Going out and drinking is part of the culture of young adults in America.

Many times it’s underage drinkers who engage the most in drunk driving—because they don’t want to tell someone that they’re intoxicated. One in five college students admit to driving while drunk, and 40% have ridden with a drunk driver, according to a U.S. News survey.

Dr. Glenn Goldberg, Director of Counseling Services at Flagler College, claims that college kids don’t realize the severity of their actions until it’s too late.

“Most students that come see me are in denial,” Goldberg said. “They think they’re suffering from bad luck, not reality.”

Even after they’ve been involved in a drunk driving incident of their own, students still overestimate and water-down the truth. Jannette Cintron Houston didn’t wake up the morning of November 2nd and think, Today’s the day I’ll crash into McDonald’s.

Experts say if it happened once, it can happen again.

If it happened to one person, it can happen to anyone.

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