Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Student sober driver helps peers stay safe

Suraj Krishna, a seventh-semester mechanical and aerospace engineer major, started sober driving in the fall of 2015. Krishna is unique in that he drives for the benefit of others and doesn't charge his riders. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Not everyone would find it ideal to spend their Friday and Saturday nights driving drunken college students around into the early hours of the morning.

For most students who sober drive, they’re usually looking for an easy way to get extra cash.

Once Thursday rolls around, the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook page erupts with posts from people willing to sober drive, normally asking for $2-3 per person.

But for one UConn student by day, sober driver by night, money is not the reason he does it. The satisfaction of knowing his peers will be safe is what makes it worth doing.

Suraj Krishna, a seventh-semester mechanical and aerospace engineer major, started sober driving in the fall of 2015.

Krishna said at first he began driving because he didn’t have financial support from his family.

“At the time I was in between sleeping at friends’ apartments, in my car and various hotels,” he said.

Like most people might, he had a few concerns. He was worried about his car being ruined, how late he might end up staying awake and how to “deal with intoxicated people.”

“But some good friends, [who] were my second reason, encouraged me to try it since they didn’t think it was too risky, “ Krishna said.

Once he decided to sober drive, he said he started to treat it like a business.

“Seeing the [Facebook] page clog up with countless posts for rides, often with the same people posting literally hundreds of times a night, I needed to differentiate myself from everyone else.”

Krishna made sure his riders saved his phone number at the end of the night, and he made sure to save their numbers as well.

“It was an issue of trust for me, and an issue of security for everyone else,” he said. “I wanted people to know that they could call me at any time and expect my help.”

Eventually Krishna stopped charging people who were in need of a sober driver.

“I once saw someone’s post saying that they wouldn’t let anyone inside their car without money upfront,” he said. “How could you ever tell someone such a thing if you’re dealing with people who are impaired, stranded and maybe even with their health in jeopardy?”

Despite not charging people, Krishna said a majority of people he drove left him tips.

“By not settling an asking price, people wouldn’t think twice about how much to give me. I’d say only 10 percent of people didn’t pay me, but I saw the other 90 percent of people emptying their pockets with whatever they had.”

Besides the obvious wear and tear that is bound to happen, Krishna said he was “lucky to have ever had only one person throw up inside my car.”

“I was the only person who kept my word when I said I drove all night, I drove for as long as people were texting or calling for rides,” he said.

His latest night clocked him in at 5:45 a.m. When asked if he ever felt like he missed out on having fun on the weekends with his friends, he admitted that at times he did.

“I missed the late nights with friends talking about life until the sun rose the next morning, but I had to keep my word.”

Krishna said he felt guilty whenever he was not on campus or when he had a busy night that kept him from driving and received texts or calls from people needing a ride.

“I realized how great of a way it [sober driving] was to meet so many warm and cordial people,” he said. “Today, I look at sober driving as a lifestyle choice and way to change the world, one ride at a time.”


Angie DeRosa is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at angelina.derosa@uconn.edu.  She tweets @theangiederosa.