Having a designated driver is a smart way to ring in the new year, but there are other ways to get home safely if you've had too much to drink.
In Toledo, ABCO Services Inc. is again offering free rides and vehicle tows from midnight to 3 a.m. Saturday.
In Hancock County, the Safe Ride Home program is making rides and tows available from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday. The free rides are one-way only -- either from a bar or party to home or a hotel.
Steve Zimmerman, president of ABCO, said it was his tow-truck drivers who asked if they were going to be giving people rides home this year. The drivers volunteer their time for the New Year's Eve program because it's the one time of year people are glad to see them.
"If people weren't grateful, they wouldn't do it, but everybody they've picked up has been wonderful and thankful," Mr. Zimmerman said. "They would much rather pull up to somebody that had called them than to go to an accident scene because we were called by law enforcement."
That is, of course, the whole idea behind the safe ride program, which in Hancock County is now offered on other holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.
"For Thanksgiving eve we took 96 people home ,so if that's any indication, I think New Year's Eve is just a little bit bigger of a party night so we're expecting at least 150 people," said Mike Cortez, a sergeant with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office and president of Safe Ride Home. "We want people to use the program so they get home safe and don't get arrested but also because it keeps the people traveling through our county safe."
Hancock County residents may call Dick's Towing at 419-424-1733to get a free ride or tow on New Year's Eve. In Toledo, call ABCO at 419-536-6123 for the service.
Mr. Zimmerman said only about 10 people called for free rides and tows last Dec. 31, but he'd like to think it made a difference.
"If we can save one accident out there and not just the person driving, we're talking there are a lot of people out on the road," he said. "I've got family out there driving too. If we can make the road safe if not for the one evening, why not pitch in and do what we can?"
Scott Potter, co-owner of Black & White Transportation, said plenty of cabs will be available for hire on New Year's Eve. His company also offers a "Home Safe" program through which a taxi driver will drive you home in your own car. The service keeps motorists from driving drunk but allows them to get their vehicle home safely too.
"It's roughly four times the taxi fare so if the fare if $20, it's $80, but that is cheap when you compare it to spending $10,000 for a DUI," he said. "It's really cheap insurance."
Sergeant Cortez said his organization is continuing to work toward making the Safe Ride Home program available everyday of the year. It recently obtained nonprofit status and is accepting donations at Safe Ride Home, 4404 TR 142, Findlay, Ohio 45840.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6129.