County DUI Advisory Council looks to 2017 projects

MEGAN BLOOM/Sun-Gazette Malcolm Friend, state program manager of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, spoke at the Lycoming County DUI Advisory Council on Tuesday.

“Drunk driving doesn’t affect you until it does,” Malcolm Friend, state program manager of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said at the Lycoming County DUI Advisory Council on Tuesday.

To bring communities together to support those affected by drunk driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving look to host its national fundraiser —  Walk like MADD —  in the area sometime during fall.

“It is a platform for victims and survivors to turn their pain into purpose,” Friend said.

It is a time for people to remember those who were killed, injured or emotionally scarred due to drunk driving, to commit to a future of no more victims from driving under the influence, he said.

A local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is not starting but the state organization is looking to be more involved across the commonwealth in the new year, he said.

He made committee members aware of programming the organization can provide to families and students to help prevent people from choosing to drive impaired.

Two of the available programs are the Power of Parents and the Power of You(th) that schools and community organizations can host.

The Power of Parents is a 30-minute workshop for parents to learn how to talk to their children about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and underage drinking, Friend said. There are different sections for parents of middle- and high-school students.

In Power of You(th), students learn about case studies of their peers who were killed due to underage drinking and driving drunk, he said.

There also is a hybrid program available for colleges to address the issue.

In other business, the council discussed different actions it can take to remind people to not drink and drive during holidays and events such as football games, Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day.

Chris Smith, Community Traffic Safety Project highway safety specialist, said she hopes to give stickers to pizza shops to put on their boxes during the Super Bowl that read, “fans don’t let fans drive drunk.”

She and Carol Sides, council president, said flyers may be placed on vehicles to remind drivers to think about whether they are sober enough to drive home.

If there is no designated driver, anybody can download the Safer Ride app that allows the user to program phone numbers into the app of who to call to pick them up, said Kim Smith, state Department of Transportation safety press officer. It also can call an Uber or taxi.

The app uses the phone’s location service to tell the person picking them up exactly where they are, she said.