Updated Tue, Mar 26, 2013 8:41 am
Two companies launched a new program Monday that aims to lower the drunk driving rate in Athens County.
The Free Ride Back program, provided by Green Cab and Classic Brands Budweiser, allows Green Cab passengers to opt for a free return ride to their vehicles the morning after a night out.
Green Cab clients must pay the standard rate for a ride to their destination and request a "Free Ride Back card" from the cab driver upon arrival. That card can then be redeemed from any Green Cab vehicle the next day, and the clients will be returned to their car free of charge.
John Rinaldi, owner of Green Cab, said he decided to launch the progam after learning of a similar one in another state.
"We wanted to do something good for the area," he said. "I was researching and found a taxi company in Arizona that does a free ride back program. That gave me the idea for our own program."
Mark Bisang, general manager of Classic Brands, said he his hopeful that this program will help promote safe drinking.
"[Classic Brands does] everything we can to promote responsible drinking," said Bisang. "With this Free Ride Back program, we can help ensure that everyone gets home safe and is more responsible while still being able to have a good time out."
According to the most recent statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there have been 51 citations in Athens County for operating a vehicle while intoxicated since the beginning of 2013. There were 51 OVI citations in the county at the same time last year.
Rinaldi said he hopes that the Free Ride Back program will help reduce these rates and become known for promoting a safe night out as well.
"I think the impact will be good," he said. "We already bring people back to their cars on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but with this program I'm hoping we bring back 20 to 30 people every Saturday and Sunday morning."
The program will begin serving the Athens community on April 11.