(LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2006) — The Automobile Club of Southern California offers its free Tipsy Tow service to help keep drinking drivers off the road during the Fourth of July holiday period. The service is available from 6 p.m. on Monday, July 3 until 11:59 p.m.., Tuesday, July 4. Tipsy Tow is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club.
Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, ?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.
?We want motorists to be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and encourage them to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking,? said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior traffic safety analyst for the Auto Club.
Independence Day is a traditional time for excursions, parties, trips to the beach, backyard picnics and barbecues; activities that contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere and more drinking, according to Bloch.
?It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgment and reaction time,? Bloch said. ?We hope drivers are aware that the CHP and law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during holidays."
While the number of Californians arrested for driving under the influence in 2004 (the latest year available) is far lower than it was 23 years ago, it is still disturbingly high — 183,000, according to Bloch. Statewide annual alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes have also decreased sharply, from 49,000 in 1981 to slightly more than 22,000 in 2004 ?We'd like to see these numbers reduced even further, particularly the high numbers during the holidays,? added Bloch.
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, according to the Auto Club. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicles instead of driving while intoxicated.
People convicted of driving under the influence could 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 $12,000 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 the decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries for the past 10 years. The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of its ?You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.? public awareness campaign.
The Auto Club advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- At social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride if you have been drinking.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As a party host, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
- Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com.