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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Drinking & driving: when “invincibility” destroys us

“I’m a great drunk driver.” Tell me why I’ve had this phrase uttered to me more than once recently, and normally in some suave tone, as if I’m supposed to be impressed. I’d really like to know why some people are still able to shrug off the dangers of drinking and driving, as if it’s, “no big deal.” These were most likely the thoughts of Jessica Rasdall when she was 18.

“My name is Jessica Rasdall, and on Feb. 25, 2006, I killed my best friend,” Rasdall said as she spoke to high school students in Florida, according to She was a freshman in college when she and her best friend since kindergarten, Laura Gorman, got into her car after they had been drinking at a club. They got into an accident, and ultimately, Rasdall was charged with killing Gorman.

Don’t drink and drive. I know; it’s been drilled into our heads since any of us had even begun to think about driving. So then tell me why there still seems to be a lack of understanding. Tell me why, in the past two months alone, I’ve been made aware of several drunk driving instances involving acquaintances of mine. Tell me why, a drunken driver kills someone every 40 minutes in the United States, according to

What is it going to take? Should I bore you with more statistics? Share more stories of people who have lost their lives and their friends or family members in drunk driving accidents? Or does someone in our community need to die first before anything changes? To me, that would be a tragic way to learn this lesson. I think we should be more proactive.

I don’t know what it is that that makes teens in our community think it’s okay to get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. And it doesn’t matter if it’s been one beer or five, it still shouldn’t happen. Besides, you’re probably lying when you say you’ve only had a few.

A part of this problem has to be entitlement. In our community, where so much seems like it is just a given, it’s easy to take things for granted. It’s easy to feel like you can do what you want, when you want, and  like nothing can stop you, nothing can possibly go wrong.

Or perhaps the better word is invincibility. Most of us think that we’re invincible. It doesn’t matter what happened to roughly 10,000 people last year; when I get into that car drunk, it sure as hell won’t be me who dies. But that’s faulty logic. And that’s exactly when the unthinkable happens.

I will be the first to acknowledge that at any time past 10 p.m., the streets of Glenview seem pretty dead. But people hit light poles; they hit trees. And sometimes, a sober driver on the road does something stupid, but the drunk driver just doesn’t react quickly enough.

I’m going to be extremely blunt in saying that if you choose to drive a car after you’ve been drinking, then you made that choice to put yourself in danger, and I am much more concerned about the other peoples’ lives you are putting at risk by driving drunk- for example, my parents, who are likely to drive home at approximately the same time as you.

Let me take a moment to note the fact that it has gotten significantly better. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of teens ages 16 and older that drink and drive went down from 22.3 percent in 1991 to only 10.3 percent in 2011.

It used to be the norm to drink and drive. My dad carried the caskets of several of his close friends in high school who died in drunk driving accidents. I think that our community is so fortunate to have been free of such tragedies.

But this does not, by any means, indicate that there isn’t room for improvement. Or that something terrible can’t still happen. If you’re a student reading this (though this admonition is not limited to teens), I just ask that you make sure you are keeping you and your peers safe.

Don’t be afraid to take someone’s keys if they are trying to drive drunk. Call them a cab. Call their parents; I guarantee they will prefer that phone call over the one they could possibly receive from the police about an accident their child has been involved in.

And if you’re a parent and you’re reading this, you cannot say any of these things to your child too often. Make sure your teenager would never resort to drunk driving in order to avoid punishment if they were to call you in a time of need.

Even if this resonates with only one person and changes the actions of only one individual, this column will have accomplished what I intended it to.

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