(LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2008) – The Automobile Club of Southern California is offering its free Tipsy Tow service to drinking drivers during the 4th of July holiday for the 11th consecutive year. The service is available from 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, to midnight on Friday, 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 roadside 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’ve been drinking,” said the Auto Club’s senior researcher Steve Bloch.
Fourth of July is a traditional time for barbecues, family gatherings, parties, picnics and revelry, all activities that contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere and more opportunities for drinking alcohol, according to Bloch.
“It only takes one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills that affect vision, steering, braking judgment, and reaction time,” he said. “Drivers should be are aware that the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday.”
While the number of Californians arrested for driving under the influence in 2006 (the latest figure available) is more than 40% less than what it was 25 years ago. It’s still disturbingly high – 199,147, according to Bloch. Statewide annual alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes have also decreased sharply, by 50% from 44,234 in 1982 to an estimated 22,000 in 2007.
“A report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released earlier this year found that nearly 10 percent of motorists admit to driving drunk when they thought their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. This is entirely preventable, especially around the holidays,” said Bloch.
Drinking drivers frequently don’t plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the cost of taxis and inconvenience as the major reasons they don’t use alternate transportation, according to the Auto Club. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicle instead of driving while intoxicated.
People convicted of driving under the influence could lose many of the important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost $15,000 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 during the past 10 years. The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of the “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 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.