Auto Club rings in 2002 With Free Tipsy Tow Service on New Year’s Eve

December 28, 2001

To help keep New Year’s Eve safe for all motorists, the Automobile Club of Southern California will offer free Tipsy Tow rides home for drinking drivers and their vehicles.

Between 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 800/400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles in any of the 13 counties in Southern California. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operator, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular Auto Club-contracted emergency road service truck will be dispatched.

Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver and the destination is limited to the driver’s residence. Reservations are not accepted. Drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor for rides farther than seven miles.

“Drivers who drink contribute to three traffic-related deaths each day and an injury every 17 minutes in California,” said Arline Dillman, Ph.D., the Auto Club’s traffic safety expert. “Over the past five years, a statewide average of 136 people have been killed or injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes each day during the New Year’s holiday period. Based on recent years, we estimate that 500 to 600 people statewide will be killed or injured in alcohol-related crashes this year during the New Year’s holiday period.”

Drinking drivers frequently don’t plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the expense of taxis and time inconvenience as the major reasons they don’t use alternative transportation, explained Dillman. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home instead of driving while intoxicated.

“People may think they know how much to drink and still stay in control, but it takes only a drink or two to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgement and reaction time,”said Dillman. “As a result, more than 184,000 Californians were arrested for driving under the influence in 2000, which translates to one person every 2.9 minutes. We’d like to reduce that number and make roads and highways safer for motorists.”

Dillman added that people convicted of driving under the influence can lose many of the most important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost about $11,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs.

Current laws, enforcement, public awareness and education efforts by public service-oriented organizations, including the Auto Club, have contributed to a steady decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries for the past 10 years. However, between 1999 and 2000, the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries increased for the first time since 1986.

To more effectively spread the message about the dangers of drinking and driving, the Auto Club is airing a television commercial this month in addition to providing the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of its “You Drink. You Drive.You Lose” public awareness campaign.

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