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Is ignorance bliss or is being naive bliss?

Before this summer, I was naive to thinking that bad things could happen to me or my family. That someone can pass suddenly or tragically, and not when they are old and ready to go peacefully.  I lived in the comfort that saying goodbye was just a see you later and not a goodbye forever. 

Nothing can prepare you for the call saying on the other line that the life you knew is over. This past summer, I lost my aunt and uncle due to a traumatic car accident. The driver who caused the accident was four times over the legal alcohol limit. FOUR TIMES. 

My uncle passed on the scene and my aunt spent about a month in a coma until she succumbed to her injuries. My cousin had extensive physical injuries she eventually recovered from, but the emotional injury of losing both of her parents she will never heal. 

I felt as if life had slapped me in the face and given me a new pair of glasses to see the world in. Suddenly, I was frantic every single day after, knowing the possibility that I could lose someone else close to me. I no longer existed in a naive illusion of life. 

I could not wrap my head around the fact of how I said ‘bye’ and ‘see you soon’ so casually, because how could something so tragic, ugly and horrible happen? But, car accidents as a result of drunk driving occur with greater frequency than commonly perceived.

Drinking and driving is a substantial issue across college campuses, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). 

“Approximately 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries each year, including motor vehicle crashes,” according to the NIAAA. “A survey conducted by the NIAAA also found that 33% of college students reported driving after drinking alcohol.” 

Miami University is no different. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has a dashboard to report the statistics of those driving under the influence. In 2024, there were 64,541 crashes, 3,158 of them were fatal. Keep in mind we are in the third month of the year. That is someone’s sister, brother, mom, dad or best friend.

People are losing their lives every single day as a result of irresponsible choices. This is an epidemic in our country that is entirely preventable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a rule to “require that new passenger motor vehicles be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology through a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS).” This federal regulation is vital to saving lives and is a long overdue step in protecting innocent lives. 

You might be thinking, “this could never happen to me,” but I’m writing to tell you, it could. I would be lying if I said that Oxford did not have a heavy drinking culture. It is so easy to get in the car for a ride but I’m here to tell you to NEVER do that. There are many alternative options that can be utilized. You can call a sober friend, an Uber, Lyft or walk home. Miami University also offers a safe escort service for after-hours called BCRTA SafeRide. Always be mindful of who is driving the vehicle.  

I will never get an answer to “the why” I asked when this horrible accident happened. It is my mission in writing this article to be a voice of reason when you are contemplating getting in the car. It is always better to be safe than sorry. 

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If you had a drink or two, do not get behind the wheel. It will NEVER be worth it. Remember the weight of that decision: you could be doing it at the expense of your life and someone else’s. 

Olivia Kerben is a senior double majoring in Social Justice and Professional Writing. Originally from Rockville, Maryland, Olivia has an unwavering passion for social justice and is enthusiastic about her opportunity to serve as an opinion writer for The Miami Student in her final semester.