By ERIC SCHAADT
Partiers who drink and drive over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend will not enjoy the luck of the Irish, if lawmen catch them.
The Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and Findlay Police Department are teaming up to target impaired drivers, starting tonight.
For those who would rather not meet with an officer, the Safe Ride Home program will be available to escort intoxicated people home. The free program will unveil a new app for arranging a ride.
Over the weekend and on Monday, local law enforcement agencies will deploy extra patrol units to look for impaired drivers.
The focus also will be on safety belt use.
Lt. Matt Crow, commander of the Findlay state patrol post, said, “Twenty percent of the fatal crashes in Hancock County last year involved alcohol. While there has only been one fatal crash in 2014, troopers from the Findlay post and our Hancock County law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively look for and remove impaired drivers from our community’s roadways.”
Authorities are reminding motorists that if they are going to consume alcohol, they should plan ahead by designating a sober driver, calling a cab, or contacting Safe Ride Home.
Safe Ride Home’s availability this weekend will run from 9 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday, and from 9 p.m. Monday to 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Safe Ride Home can be reached at 419-425-3908.
This service provides transportation from a party or bar to a home or motel. It is not for bar-hopping.
During last year’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday, 89 people were taken home via Safe Ride Home, according to program president Mike Cortez.
Safe Ride Home has announced a new device to aid motorists needing assistance.
Users of Android or iPhones can download an app on their phones called “Iridehome,” which is a nationwide database for programs such as Safe Ride Home.
After downloading the app, a person can enter their location and the number for a Safe Ride Home will appear. The user then can touch the phone number and Safe Ride Home will automatically be dialed.
If Safe Ride Home is not available, a person can click the “taxi” button on the screen and the Internet browser will show a list of taxi services with phone numbers.
Safe Ride Home also is announcing a campaign to raise $30,000 to purchase an “impaired driver simulator” to educate people about the dangers of impaired driving.
The simulator could be demonstrated at schools and to community organizations.
The simulator includes an actual car, and the driver experiences sensations of driving, including movement of the steering wheel and tires.
With a set of goggles, the driver can see a simulated roadway and drive through one of 50 scenarios.
As the driver travels through any scenario, the “blood alcohol content” of the simulator gradually increases, along with the effects of alcohol.
Safe Ride Home will create a donation account at Gofundme.com that will be available to accept donations starting March 24.
Those wanting to make donations can also mail a check to “Safe Ride Home” at 4404 Township 142, Findlay 45840.
For details or questions about the simulator, email Mike Cortez at email@example.com.
Also, Safe Ride Home wants to add five more people to its board of directors. Those interested in serving on the board can submit a letter stating the reason the applicant wants a board seat and how the applicant can be an asset to the Safe Ride Home program. Letters can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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