Editorial: Safety Net for Holiday Celebrations
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Editorial: Safety Net for Holiday Celebrations

It’s an opportunity to talk about responsibility, alcohol and planning ahead.

Safe Ride Home

WRAP's 2015 Holiday SoberRide program will be offered from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly from Dec. 11, 2015 to Jan. 1, 2016.

To receive a free cab ride home (up to a $30 fare), call 800-200-8294 (TAXI).

You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service.

See www.SoberRide.com.

The holiday party season is here, and we will almost all be celebrating in some way. Some ways will involve celebrations that include alcohol.

It’s up to you to make a plan to get home safely.

Plan to bring a designated driver. Plan to party (and live) where you can take public transportation. Plan to celebrate at home or someplace where you can spend the night. Plan to abstain.

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 impaired drivers throughout Northern Virginia during the winter holidays.

The annual Holiday SoberRide program will operate nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, and continuing until Thursday, Jan. 1, 2016 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period.

During these times, area residents 21-and-over, 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.

WRAP also offers free cab rides for other holidays, including Halloween, Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, and more.

Concerns about consequences of driving under the influence are well founded.

In Fairfax County in 2014 there were 740 alcohol-related crashes, which included 12 alcohol related fatalities and 476 alcohol related injuries. (Overall in Fairfax County in 2014, there were 13,680 total crashes including 32 fatalities and 7,649 injuries.)

In 2014, there were no fatal vehicular accidents in the City of Alexandria. But of the 1,777 total crashes, 99 were alcohol-related; and of the 757 injuries in crashes, 60 were alcohol-related.

In Arlington in 2014, there were 235 alcohol related crashes, with two alcohol-related fatalities and 78 alcohol related injuries. (Overall in Arlington in 2014, there were 2,469 with five fatalities and 1,094 injuries.)

In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. Tens of thousands more were injured. Holidays lead to an increase in impaired driving, the Christmas through New Year season in particular.

Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide program has provided more than 63,000 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 you, and you’ll come get them if necessary.

The consequences and vulnerabilities of drinking to excess are significant, more so for underage drinkers and young adults, even beyond drinking and driving. Don’t let the opportunity to talk about it pass you by.