SafeRide program: Over three decades of success
The Tavern League of Wisconsin is proud to announce its award-winning SafeRide program provided over 91,000 free rides home from TLW-member businesses in 2017-2018. The highly successful program is administered by Tavern League members in 62 counties and monitored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The cost of this year’s program was over $700,000, with financial support from a surcharge on OWI convictions and fundraising efforts of Tavern League members.
Locally, a fundraising event known as Merrill Lobsterfest has provided a boost for the Lincoln County Tavern League. The event raised over $9,000 in 2018, which will cover the local share of the program for the coming year.
“Lobsterfest funds our SafeRide Home program 100 percent for the year,” said Lobster Fest founder Mike Fick. Fick, who owns the Tavern League member establishment Ballyhoos, conceived Lobsterfest as a fundraiser four years ago. At that time the SafeRide program was facing a cut in state funding due to a sharp decline in OWI convictions.
No taxpayer money goes into the SafeRide program, Fick stressed.
“This is completely self-funded, through the surcharge on convictions and fundraising,” he said.
Lobsterfest has received support from the local law enforcement and protective services agencies.
Over the past year, Lincoln County Tavern League establishments have given out over 1,200 vouchers, 107 last month alone.
“This program is not just for if you are fall-down drunk,” Fick said. “If you feel unsafe to drive for any reason, you can get a voucher. A lot of responsible people use it that way.”
Wisconsin has witnessed a 44 percent decline in OWI convictions since 2007 and nearly a 50 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities in that same time period.
TLW President Chris Marsicano states, “We know that our SafeRide program saves lives and we will continue to ensure the program continues to thrive.”
The SafeRide program is unique to Wisconsin and it’s considered the standard for other states as a means to help eliminate drunk driving.
TLW Executive Director Pete Madland says, “Over the years bar patrons have learned that SafeRide is an acceptable alternative to driving while impaired.”
The number of SafeRides given has doubled since 2007.
With the New Year’s holiday around the corner, Fick encourages bar patrons to consider the alternatives to impaired driving.
“Decide what you’re going to do early,” he said, “whether it’s having a designated driver or use the SafeRide Home program. Patronize the Tavern League members and we’ll get you home safe.”
As an added deterrent to drunk driving, Wisconsin law enforcement is currently increasing patrol during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
The fifth annual Lobsterfest is set for July 27, 2019.
For more information about the Tavern League of Wisconsin’s SafeRide program, please visit www.tlw.org.