Program aims to keep would be drunk drivers off the road
By TRINAY BLAKE
The holiday season is a time for celebration and, unfortunately, excessive drinking — and that means someone who has had too much to drink will get behind the wheel. Those who want to enjoy more than their share of drinking at this year’s office party or family get-together have an alternative to bringing along a designated driver to the party: they can call SoberRide.
SoberRide, a part of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), has helped tens of thousands of people who’ve had too much to drink get home safely for more than 14 years.
Current dates of service: January 7, 2007 through January 1, 2007 (ends at 6 a.m.)
Hours: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Age restrictions: You must be 21 or older to use the service
Please note: SoberRide accepts cell calls with a District, Maryland or Virginia area code, or from a local landline or pay phone
“The motivation behind the program was to create a safety valve to this high-risk consumption period,” President Kurt Erickson said.
The goal is simple: keep intoxicated people from driving and get them home safely without causing injury to themselves or others.
SoberRide services are available in the District, Northern Virginia and Prince Georges and Montgomery counties in Maryland. It is the model upon which several similar programs throughout the U.S. are based, including Tipsy Taxi in Baltimore, Erickson said.
Fares up to $50 are waived for passengers, though they are responsible for any amount over that. These cab rides are as much a priority as those requested for regular service. WRAP partners with nine cab companies (sidebar 1) and they receive payment for fares from the grant money WRAP’s corporate backers provide, Erickson said. It costs about $60,000 annually to run the program and it is 100 percent privately funded, says Erickson.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments prepared a report called “How Safe Are Our Roads?,” which provides year-to-year data on alcohol related fatalities.
Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park) has seen an increase with 55 alcohol-related fatalities this year, up 103.7 percent from 2006. In 2006, the District had 15 alcohol-related fatalities, down 16.7 percent from 2005 and Maryland (Prince Georges and Montgomery counties) had 47, up 14.6 percent from 2005.
SoberRide is also available during other peak alcohol consumption periods: St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween.
Call SoberRide at 1-800-200-8294 for a safe ride home.