You may ... be aware of the limited options available to bar patrons in Dallas County due to the unavailability of Dallas Ares Rapid Transit services between the hours of roughly 1:15 am and 4:20 am. Privatized options such as cabs are of little use during the most high risk hours of the early morning as drivers often refuse to acknowledge a fare whose destination is not DFW Airport or at a great enough distance from the flag drop to qualify as worth their while.I've heard of similar business model elsewhere, and a quick web search found there are quite a few such services already operating in Texas. Here's a description from the same site of various versions of the idea:
Because my circle of friends has for some time kept a pact that none of us would get behind the wheel when we should be asking for a ride home, we have decided that, together, we can make a positive impact on the DUI statistics in Dallas by offering ourselves as drivers to others who should not be driving due to impairment from drugs or alcohol. To sweeten the offer, we will drive them in their own cars. We'll be launching this decision as a small business we are calling RIDEonomy in the next few days. The date of our premiere is earlier than our originally-scheduled grand opening, but the coinciding national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and Statewide "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." law enforcement end-of summer crackdowns targeting motorists with the use of saturation patrols and other methods has impressed upon us the need to step up our schedule despite the fact that we are not yet fully funded.
We believe that through dedication to making ourselves available to drive people home without making them abandon their cars overnight we will make a difference in the statistics and the lives of our fellow citizens in north Texas. All we have to do to make it possible is reach those at-risk drivers who need our services. In order to reach the people who need us, we have developed a marketing budget and campaign. The funding campaign for our marketing plan is, however, scheduled to begin in three days. In order to effectively counter the crackdown, we need help. This is where we hope you will come into the RIDEonomy picture.
Will you please take a moment to visit our website, http://rideonomy.com? I would be personally grateful for your opinion of the site and our program. Once you've seen the site, if you believe in our mission, all I ask is that you help us spread the word of what we are trying to do in Dallas by supporting our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/RIDEonomy, directing others to our website and asking them to support us on Facebook as well as our funding campaign.
Designated driver services generally work one of two ways. There are ’Team Lift’ and ’Scooter’ approaches.This is potentially an important development because it actually addresses the main reason people don't take cabs or public transport home after a night of drinking: They don't want to leave their car stranded far away from their homes, and zoning regulations have essentially outlawed neighborhood bars so most folks who want to go to one must drive some distance from their home to find drinking establishments. If you need your car to, say, go to work the next morning, leaving it miles away in the bar district while you take a cab back to the suburbs really isn't a viable option.
Team Lift is where two guys come to where you are in their vehicle. One drives you home in your car while the other follows in their car. They get you home and then both ride off together in their car.
The Scooter approach is where a guy arrives on a special scooter that folds up and fits into a nice, compact carrying bag. He stows the scooter in your trunk and drives you home in your car. Then he unpacks his scooter and rides off to his next client.
There are both commercial businesses and non-profit groups providing designated driver services. Commercial businesses typically offer other transportation services as well. They will frequently serve a single large metropolitan area and its immediate surroundings, if not that entire county. Most non-profits work directly with individual restaurant and bar owners in their local city or county. To use these services, you need to be in a participating bar or restaurant. The non-profit designated driver services are usually cheaper and sometimes even free. You should tip them! Many of these services also operate only during limited weekend hours. In fact, some are available during Holidays only.
Another way designated driver services can work is by membership. Pay for your membership, and you can avail yourself of the service when needed.
If this idea were to catch on, it wouldn't surprise me if it did more to reduce drunk driving deaths than all the "no refusal" weekends ever implemented. I'd like to see such services widely publicized in bars, as well as more creative thinking about non-criminal justice approaches to reducing drunk driving. For the most part, the trail 'em, nail 'em and jail 'em strategy has pretty much reached the limits of its effectiveness.
See related Grits posts:
- Why so few DWIs in Berlin? Public transport
- Balko: Abolish DWI laws to focus on impaired driving
- Charting new paths to reduce DWI
- Incarceration for DWI fails without treatment
- Should states' anti-drunk driving campaigns shift to civil side of the courthouse
- Public transit can reduce DWIs
- Public transport, less restrictive zoning could reduce DWIs
- DWI: A social problem masquerading as a crime wave