Too full of spirits to drive?

1:15:13 PM CDT - Tuesday, December 05, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

If you find you've imbibed in a little too much spirit during holiday outings, you can use the Safe Riders option available for the WSU community at a reduced rate.

Thanks to continued funding by the Student Government Association, which in recent weeks approved another $27,000 in funding for the program that keeps drunk drivers off the streets, students can use the service for free. Faculty and staff are eligible for a special $12 rate. The rate covers the driver and any passengers. Safe Riders' regular rates are $6 for pickup and $2 per every mile.

Safe Riders, a Wichita company operating since 2003, picks up customers and drives them to their destination in their own vehicles. When you call for a driver, the Safe Rider chauffeur shows up with a motorized bike that folds up into a 2.5-foot-square cube that is put in your trunk. When you arrive at your destination, the chauffeur then uses the bike to meet up with the Safe Rider van for another pickup.

At the recommendation of WSU's alcohol advisory board, SGA provided $3,000 last spring to start a pilot program for WSU students in April.

WSU employees, including WSU Police Chief Paul Dotson, and students sit on the alcohol advisory board, which is a university-level board that reviews policies related to alcohol awareness.

In the first month, Safe Riders provided 100 rides to WSU students using the program. In September, nearly 300 drivers used the program, according to Greg Buell, a psychologist with WSU's Counseling and Testing Center and an alcohol advisory board member.

Providing an inexpensive option for the WSU community to avoid driving drunk, Buell said, helps people get home safely.

"We're doing a harm reduction," said Buell. "We're not promoting drinking."

Safe Riders, reached at 461-7433, operates from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. More information about Safe Riders can be found at http://www.saferiders.net.

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