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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Late night safe drives

Photo Courtesy of Baysia Herron

CARPOOL members a night of operations on Sept. 23, 2022, at the Lime Green Legacy Center, CARPOOL’s facility and base of operations, before cars were sent out for the night.

In 1998, Aggie Jeff Schiefelbien attended a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Panel after receiving a DWI a year earlier. This inspired Schiefelbien to create CARPOOL, the first-of-its-kind driver program that gives sober rides to those in need. Since its first night of operation in 1999, the program has given 293,412 rides.
CARPOOL chair and public health senior Baysia Herron said she joined to help keep drunk drivers off the road.
“I was personally a victim of drunk driving,” Herron said. “I had experienced that and I wanted people to not have to experience that. I’ve felt so great being a part of CARPOOL. There is a certain kind of bonding that comes with working people at 2, 3, 4 a.m. It really does feel like I am making an impact.”
Vice chair and public health senior Lalita Kunamneni said she joined the rideshare program because this is an important issue and she wants to make a difference in College Station.
“I know drunk driving has affected a lot of people personally,” Kunamneni said. “Drunk driving isn’t something you can really control. Even if you are the sober person on the road, something can happen to you. Having something like this reduces the chances of that. [CARPOOL] helps me believe that I can leave an impact on college station.”
In the midst of COVID-19, CARPOOL halted operations. From March 2020 to March 2021, the program didn’t give a single ride to uphold social distancing policies. This affected not only rides, but recruitment and retention within the organization as well, Herron said.
“Because of the break, we didn’t get new members really during this time,” Herron said. “We also lost a lot of members due to graduation. We shrunk significantly in size. In fall 2021, we had eight [executive] staff members and 20 total members. We are in a much better place now.”
The organization currently has 86 members. The executive staff consists of 22 of the 86 total members, outnumbering the previous year’s member total. Vice chair and chemical engineering senior Sewar Almasalha said this increase in membership stems from the group’s camaraderie.
“The people who join CARPOOL have a strong commitment to it that you don’t see in other organizations,” Almasalha said. “It’s because we attract people who are dedicated to selfless service.”
Usually, 20 people total work each weekend and operate Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m each semester. When a student calls the CARPOOL number during these hours, a CARPOOL member picks up the phone line from their facility. The member collects their name, call-back number, where they need to be picked up and dropped off. The drop-off spot has to be where the person is staying for the night, Almasalha said.
“We don’t take people anywhere; we take them to where they are staying for the night,” Almasalha said. “The idea behind that is we don’t drop off people to parties or Northgate. We want to get [people] home safe.”
The entire process is confidential, free and no questions asked, Kunamneni said.
“It is anonymous, so the name [people] give us doesn’t have to be their actual name,” Kunamneni said. “You can give us any name. It doesn’t have to be your real name, just a first name that we can associate with your ride so we know who you are on our waitlist.”
On top of giving rides, CARPOOL also speaks at Aggie Moms Clubs across the state of Texas. The organization recently partnered with TAMU Health Promotions during Aggie Ring weekend to promote their 5 in 2 Binge Drinking awareness program.
To learn more about CARPOOL, visit their website.

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