Auto Club Offers Tipsy Tow For New Year's Holiday

(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30, 2008) — California drinking and driving crashes among younger drivers has increased in recent years, according to data analyzed by the Automobile Club of Southern California. To help reduce those statistics by keeping drinking drivers off the road, the Auto Club is offering its free Tipsy Tow service to drinking drivers during the New Year’s holiday. The service is available at 6 p.m. Wednesday, New Year’s Eve, through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. 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.

A recent Auto Club analysis of California drinking and driving data from 1998 to 2007 showed that alcohol-related crashes involving young adult women drivers soared. The Auto Club found that women drivers ages 21-24 involved in fatal and injury alcohol-related crashes more than doubled – rising by 116%. The analysis also showed their male counterparts’ crashes during the same period rose 39%.

“These numbers suggest a significant change in our driving culture overall,” said Steve Bloch, the Auto Club’s traffic safety researcher. “Despite the $13,500 to $15,000 in fines, fees and penalties associated with a DUI conviction and the threat of death or injury, young women in particular are increasingly driving in a more risky fashion. As the holiday party season is in full swing, these statistics should serve as a serious warning for young adults.

“All motorists should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and we encourage them not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking,” added Bloch. “Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicles instead of driving while intoxicated, putting themselves and others in harm’s way,” he added.

“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 usually are using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday.”

People convicted of driving under the influence could lose many important things in their lives, such as family, a job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost $13,500 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased 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 during 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 also supports many sober driver programs.

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 home 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.