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Archive for Tuesday, December 4, 2001

KU students create drunken driving memorial

December 4, 2001

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Like many Kansas University students, Brian Carpenter used to occasionally drive home after having a little too much to drink. He doesn't anymore.

Carpenter was one of 40 students in a KU communications class who built a memorial to people killed by drunken drivers. They also formed a proposal for a late-night bus service to drive people home from bars.

"I've done some soul searching," he said. "I've had a couple drinks and driven home. I've driven home when I shouldn't have. If anything, this whole project has made me think about things more. I'm pretty stout about it now."

The students are in Adrianne Kunkel's Problem Solving in Teams and Groups class. Their assignment was to come up with a way to deal with a local problem.

The memorial called "Tired of Drunk Drivers" is made from 18 tires donated by a local salvage yard. The tires are in two 6-foot-tall pillars, with Plexiglas between the two. On the Plexiglas are photos and stories of about a dozen people killed by drunken drivers.

"We wanted something like the AIDS quilt something that really knocks them down," said Michelle Peaden, a senior journalism major.

Class members hope Mothers Against Drunk Driving takes the memorial on a tour of the state. They'd love for the organization to take the concept and build a permanent memorial for drunk-driving victims.

Students will unveil the memorial and their late-night bus proposal at an event Thursday at the Kansas Union. Representatives from organizations such as MADD and SADD also will be at the union for an "awareness fair."

Peaden said the group plans to present their bus proposal to city transit authorities and KU on Wheels, the student bus service. KU on Wheels already organizes SafeRide, which students can call for a ride home if they're too intoxicated to drive.

Unlike SafeRide, Peaden said the bus system would have fixed routes, and students could ride it both to and from their destination. She wasn't sure of the start-up or operation costs.

She said the class surveyed about 1,700 students, and many said they would be willing to pay for the service.

"The transit system in Lawrence has been a work in progress as time goes on," she said.

Karin Rexroad, Lawrence public transit administrator, said "public input is what the transit system in built on" ankd said she'd be glad to listen to the proposal.

But the city won't implement the late-night buses any time soon.

"We're really looking at a budget that there's not any money for additional services," she said. "It would not be cost-efficient."

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