College Police Campaign Against Halloween Drunk Driving
Adding a seasonal touch to sound year-round advice, police are taking their message to the airwaves and to establishments frequented by students.
Police Chief Chris E. Miller has recorded two public-service announcements to air on WPTC-FM, the college radio station: a short version cautioning students to the "real nightmare" that a drunk-driving arrest would cause, and a longer piece that offers sobering statistics about DUI fatalities.
Both messages, prepared with Brad L. Nason, assistant professor of mass communications and WPTC adviser, urge designation of a sober driver in advance of Halloween parties.
In addition, police are distributing drink coasters to two of students' favorite nightspots: Kimball's on Park Street, adjacent to campus, and The Cellblock on West Third Street in downtown Williamsport.
The Penn College police chief visited The Cellblock on Tuesday afternoon with Williamsport Bureau of Police Chief Gary Whiteman; Chris Smith, highway safety specialist with the Comprehensive Highway Safety Program; and Michael Hess, PennDOT's safety press officer.
He plans to visit Kimball's on Wednesday, while Whiteman – who noted the emboldened attitude of costumed revelers who "lose their identity" on Halloween – was making a series of similar stops at about a half-dozen businesses across the city.
Aided by radio ads, vigilant tavern owners and increased police presence during the "holiday,"the campaign is being echoed throughout Lycoming County, as well as in Bradford and Tioga counties. Among the messages targeted to college-age patrons and males between the ages of 21 and 34, Smith said, is that a designated driver isn't merely the "least drunk" member of the party, but, rather, someone who has not been drinking at all.
The coasters, one of which is pictured at left, colorfully reinforce that designated-driver message with a jack o' lantern in the center and text that reminds patrons, "If you have trouble putting your drink here, do your friends a favor: Don't drive."