Hughes says the main problem is drunk drivers thinking they won't get caught, but with increased patrols and efforts over the last few years, the chances of getting caught have gone up substantially.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Party goers this New Year's Eve in the Metro area have the opportunity for a ride home to avoid drinking and driving, and it's free. To Michael Hughes it's more than just a cab ride, it's a lifeline.
"As much progress as we've made in reducing driving under the influence, we still have a long way to go," said Hughes.
Hughes is Executive Director of SafeKids Mississippi, a non-profit which is teaming up with Batson Children's Hospital and American Medical Response to make the New Year's holiday a little safer for those looking to ring in the new year with a few drinks.
"A designated driver is not the person who had the least to drink. A designated driver is the person who has had nothing to drink," said Hughes.
Getting a designated driver is now just a phone call away. Beginning New Year's Eve night at 11 p.m., white 15 passenger vans will be sent to those needing a ride home but unable to drive. Pick ups and drop offs will run until 3 a.m. New Year's Day. Programs like this are happening across the state and for good reason. Since 2007, alcohol related driving deaths in Mississippi have gone down by just more than 50 percent, but there's always a spike in numbers on New Year's Eve.
"The sad but true thing is that almost every one of these crashes, almost every one of these fatalities, almost every one of these injuries are preventable," said Hughes.
Hughes says the main problem is drunk drivers thinking they won't get caught, but with increased patrols and efforts over the last few years, the chances of getting caught have gone up substantially. For those who do choose to drive under the influence, it can lead to lasting impacts.
"I can't think of any way to ruin, not just the coming year, but many, many years thereafter, perhaps the rest of your life, than being involved in a DUI crash," said Jim Pollard, Public Affairs Manager with AMR.
The number to call for a ride is 601-360-0531. The service area will stretch north to Madison, east to Brandon, south to Terry and west to Clinton. The service will not take you to another party or bar.
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