Program aims to curb impaired driving with free cab service

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Mayor Tom Henry joins with Holiday Cab to announce the return of the program that provides free cab rides home to impaired drivers during the holiday season. The Holiday Cab program, now in its 25th year, runs from Thursday, Dec. 20 to Tuesday, Jan. 1 from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Residents must call Holiday Cab at 426-1301, in order to participate in the free service program.

Holiday Cab was created in 1987 to provide an alternative for residents looking for a safe ride home. Last year, the program provided nearly 400 rides.

"We applaud the Holiday Cab program for providing this community service for 25 years," Mayor Henry said. "Our goal is to make sure our residents stay safe and that no lives are endangered on our roadways. This is a great way to reduce impaired driving and to get everyone home safely."

From the very beginning, the goal of the program has been to prevent the tragedies that can and do occur when motorists drive drunk or impaired, said Rita Junk, Holiday Cab administrator.

"Every year we've provided cab rides for people who have gone out to party or attended a holiday event and need a safe ride home," Junk said. "Law enforcement officers have encouraged residents to use our ride home, so that you won't have to use their (law enforcement's) ride home, after being arrested. This free cab service also reduces the risk of an impaired motorist causing injury to themselves or others."

The very first year of the program, they gave less than 75 rides home. Some years they have given as many as 600 rides home. Junk says they average between 250 to 300 rides each year, over the life of the program.

Nationwide, alcohol-related collisions continue to be public safety concern. In Allen County, there were 397 alcohol-related crashes in 2011, causing five deaths and 135 injuries; so far this year there have been 386 alcohol-related crashes, causing seven deaths and 140 injuries.

The Holiday Cab program will provide free rides home to those who live within a 10-mile radius of downtown Fort Wayne. Those who live farther can still use the cab service, but will have to pay the difference if their ride extends beyond the 10-mile radius.

Reservations are not accepted, and the cabs will only take people home, not to another bar, restaurant or party.

This year's Holiday Cab program is sponsored by AALCO Distributing Company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, UAW CAP Council and the Tavern Owner's Association. Rides will be provided by Deluxe Taxi Company.

The program has received support from the Fort Wayne Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

The Holiday Cab Program operates in multiple cities throughout the United States.