By Briana Vannozzi
Before rolling out the safe ride program in Evesham Township, police were making about 6 drunk driving related arrests each month.
“We’re now down to all of 2 in a hundred days,” said Randy Brown, mayor of Evesham Township.
That 60 percent reduction was reason enough for neighboring Voorhees to jump on board, expanding the first of it’s kind service that gives a free ride home to bar patrons.
“So Voorhees will be part of the Evesham ‘Save Lives’ program for a 30 day period beginning this Friday the 18th and running through Jan 15th of 2016,” said Michael Mignogna, mayor of Voorhees.
The partnership is a collaboration with Uber and the group Be My Designated Driver, which also offers safe and sober rides home.
“According to the NHTSA in 2014 there were a little over 550 traffic fatalities in NJ and 30 percent of those were from drinking and driving,” said Alexa Malkovich, VP Marketing for BeMyDD.
It’s all paid for by private donations and businesses. so far Evesham mayor, Randy Brown estimates about 800 free rides have been used. “We have 50,000 residents and thousands of people who go to these bars and restaurants every day so for us to make such a dent in such a short period of time it speaks volumes to the residents of town.”
If you’re at any one of the 19 bars in Evesham or the 9 in Voorhees between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., and you’ve had just a bit too much to drink, you open your uber app, and the safe ride option will be right at the bottom.
“The fact that we’re expanding the program is also a sign that this is a sustainable model that other communities and townships across the country and across the globe can replicate,” said Ana Mahony, General Manager of Uber NJ.
Voorhees police chief, Louis Bordi hopes to see as much success in his town. “We have 180 DUI arrests since 2012 roughly 30 percent are Voorhees residents and another 12 percent are Evesham residents,” Both mayors are pledging to collect enough money to keep the programs around as long as possible. Six other towns around the state have expressed interest, the program keeps the streets safe and business booming.
Mignogna continued, “it takes police time that would normally be used on DWI arrests and allows those cops to use their time for other safety measures which I believe is so important and one of the reasons our police departments are so in favor of this program.”
Brown added, “people are staying longer they’re spending more money and they’re staying in town.”
So residents can fill up on holiday cheer, with a clear mind and a safe ride.