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Editorial: Happy Holidays, Safely

SoberRide safety net, 1-800-200-TAXI.

Holiday party season is well under way, along with winter weather advisories. It’s up to individuals to make good decisions about celebrations that involve alcohol and how to handle transportation.

Plan to abstain. Plan to celebrate at home or someplace where you will be comfortable for some period of time. Plan to bring a designated driver. Plan to take public transportation. And if all of that fails, the Washington Regional Alcohol Project has a safety net for you.

WRAP, a local nonprofit organization, will offer free cab rides to would-be drunk drivers throughout Northern Virginia during the winter holidays.

More than 10,000 died in drunk driving related accidents in 2010. Tens of thousands more were injured. Holidays lead to an increase in impaired driving, the Christmas and New Year season in particular.

The annual Holiday SoberRide program will operate nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, and continuing until Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period.

During these times, area residents celebrating with alcohol can call the toll-free SoberRide phone number 1-800-200-TAXI for a no-cost (up to $30 fare), safe way home. Callers will be responsible for fare amounts over $30. Last December 1,927 people took advantage of this program. On New Year’s Eve alone, 387 people call on SoberRide for a safe trip home.

SoberRide is offered in throughout the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs. In these areas, local taxicab companies will be providing this no-cost service to local residents age 21 and older who might otherwise have attempted to drive home after drinking.

Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide program has provided 58,576 free cab rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Greater Washington area.

We know that many young people over 21 are living at home with parents, or will be visiting for the holidays. Parents, be brave. Have a conversation with your children whether they are under or over 21. Be sure those over 21 have a plan, and are equipped with the SoberRide number.

SoberRide is not available for underage drinkers, but parents still should talk to their children about their plans, and tell them out loud that you expect them not to drive impaired and not to get into a car with an impaired driver. Tell them to call, and you’ll come get them if necessary.

It’s a good time for a conversation about the risks of drinking to excess beyond drinking and driving as well.