Hop On the Bus, Partiers

The Eagle River Youth Coalition (ERYC) continues to spread the word for drivers to stay safe, stay sober, and stay alert on the roads. Sometimes, we all know, it takes an extra nudge for drivers to make a good choice.

Hillary Higgins, Safe Driving Coordinator at ERYC, teamed with the blockbuster gang at the Bonfire Block Party to encourage good decisions, and sober driving. This annual event is three days of foot-stompin’ music, locally brewed beer, a smorgasbord of food and a sure-fire way to kick off summer. Summer’s awakening can lead to impaired driving… and Higgins wants to remind party-goers that even buzzed driving is drunk driving.

“We know the community wants to come out and have fun and we want to help everyone make good decisions and to keep roads safe,” Higgins shares. “We used a portion of our grant funding from the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health to work with ECO Transit to provide extra transportation on May 31 and June 1. Our goal is that this will become a model program for all events in our community to keep our roads safe.”

The ECO Buses will run their existing schedule and will be free for any Bonfire Block Partier who shows the driver their wristband. The additional ECO buses will run late night and Epic Mountain will provide rides from Downtown Eagle through Eagle Ranch. The Town of Eagle is also lifting its overnight parking ban, so truly no reason to get behind the wheel after a beer or two: Hitch a ride and to stay safe!

ERYC hopes adults — by taking the bus, remaining in control and staying safe — will model positive behavior for young people. Unfortunately, even with all the talk about hanging up the phone, not drinking and driving and not driving high or otherwise impaired, youth still get behind the wheel impaired. The number of youth who report driving while impaired has inched up over the past few years, according to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, ERYC’s biennial survey of students in grades 7 through 12. The stats are alarming: 20 percent of youth got in a car with someone who had a drink; 9 percent reported to drive after a drink; 20 percent of youth reported they rode in a car with someone who had used marijuana.

“People of all ages sometimes need a little catalyst to continue to make a good choice. Even one beer can impact one’s sobriety. I want to make sure everyone who is in Eagle, listening to the music, enjoying a good beer, knows they have a safe, sober way of getting home,” Higgins says.

It’s with an eye on these statistics and befriending youth in the community that makes Higgins want to do more and be involved in decreasing all forms of distracted and impaired driving. She’s been meeting with a variety of proponents who are propelling the safe driving mission forward.

“Together, as a coalition, with our grant funding, with young people choosing not to drink—we can all make smart decisions; help everyone be aware of their attitudes and actions,” Higgins adds.

The Eagle River Youth Coalition’s mission is to continuously and collaboratively improve the lives of youth in the most powerful ways possible. Through a variety of programs, we strive to positively impact young people’s lives, giving them a voice in our community. Learn about the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, ERYC’s largest data assessment effort administered biennially to middle and high school students, and the “You Told Us” Social Norms campaign. Parents are invited to join the conversation and learn about resources through Eat Chat Parent. Take a minute to learn how we all work together to make youth a community priority.