Crawford County Tavern
League hopes to start Saferide
By Ted Pennekamp
Members of the Crawford County Tavern League have been working hard toward implementing the Saferide Program in order to make the county’s roads safer.
“We need to start it here,” said Tavern League President Jan Sturmer, who noted that Crawford County is one of only 12 counties in the state without the Saferide Program, which has proven to be effective in keeping impaired drivers off the road.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Department of Transportation work together to administer the Saferide Program, said Sturmer, who, along with her husband Pete, owns the Captain’s Daughter Sports Bar and Grill in Eastman.
First established in 1985, the Saferide Program can now be found in 60 counties in Wisconsin. Anyone feeling impaired can get a free ride home from a participating Tavern League member.
“It is the largest Saferide Program in the country and we are very proud of our members who volunteer their time to make it a success,” said Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin.
In 2013, participating establishments provided 71,702 free rides home to customers throughout Wisconsin, creating safer roads for everyone.
“It’s not a good idea to drive impaired. Our Saferide Program provides an alternative that is safe and it is free,” said Tavern League of Wisconsin President Terry Harvath.
The program has received attention from the National Conference of Mayors for its efforts to reduce alcohol related crashes and fatalities. In Wisconsin, alcohol related accidents are down 36 percent since 2007, while fatalities have declined 33 percent.
“It is a great program that is an effective means of reducing fatalities by getting impaired drivers off the road,” said Madland.
To use the program, Sturmer said a patron simply needs to ask the bartender if they participate. If the tavern does participate, a ride for the patron will be provided free of charge.
Sturmer said Coulee Cab of Prairie du Chien has agreed to give rides on Fridays and Saturdays until 3 a.m. within a three-mile radius. Also, the Prairie du Chien City Council voted unanimously in favor of establishing a Saferide Program.
Sturmer said participating taverns would purchase vouchers. A voucher would be given to Coulee Cab for each ride. Coulee Cab would then turn in the voucher to the Tavern League and be paid for giving the ride.
After the program has been established, it is hoped that eventually people will pay for a cab ride to their favorite bar and then get a Saferide home.
“That’s our future hope, that they won’t even drive,” said Sturmer. “Three dollars is a whole lot less than three grand.”
Sturmer said the Crawford County Tavern League is in the process of applying to the federal government in order to obtain non-profit organization status for the program.
Fund-raising efforts are also underway to fund the program in Crawford County. Sturmer noted that patrons of participating taverns can donate $1 or more toward the program. Also, a fundraiser was held in February at Leisure Time Sports Bar and Bowl of Prairie du Chien. “It was fabulous. The turnout was great. There were 20 teams,” said Sturmer, who noted that there were many door prizes and a raffle. “It was very successful. The people were very supportive.”
The Crawford County Tavern League will eventually apply to the state Saferide Program for funds to match what the Tavern League has raised. “The more money we raise, the more rides we can give,” she said.
Sturmer explained that the program will also receive a $21 surcharge, which comes out of the fine for every DWI in the county. The Saferide Program is not taxpayer funded. The money comes from fund-raising efforts and from the DWI surcharges.
Once the program is up and running in Prairie du Chien, the next step would be to implement a Good Samaritan Program so that the rural taverns and residents could benefit. Sturmer said the Good Samaritan Program involves volunteer drivers in participating taverns who are 100 percent sober. A volunteer would get a voucher by which they would be paid to give a patron a ride home. Good Samaritans are paid for the number of miles round trip from the bar to the patron’s home and back to the bar. The bar would be reimbursed by the Saferide Coordinator. Sturmer said that prices for this service have not been established yet. “Good Samaritan drivers will be a key for awhile in the county,” she said.
Ultimately, the Saferide-Good Samaritan Program would like to purchase some of its own vehicles. “We are modeling ourselves after the Grant-Iowa County program,” said Sturmer, who noted that Grant and Iowa Counties have combined for their Saferide Program and now have five vehicles with paid drivers. The Grant-Iowa County program started in 2007. Their five vehicles combined now average 100,000 miles per year, said Sturmer.
A lot of people have Smart Phones or other such devices now, and Sturmer said the Tavern League of Wisconsin has an app by which people can find out which taverns in their area participate in the Saferide Program. She said the app can search for participating taverns by city, a statewide map or by the name of the bar.
“We are 100 percent behind the Crawford County Tavern League’s efforts to establish a Saferide Program,” said Madland. “It’s a great program and we’re really excited about it. It’s about getting people to change their habits.” Madland said impaired drivers include not only those who have had too much to drink, but those in other situations as well, such as drivers who are too tired.
For more information about the Saferide Program, interested persons can go to www.tlw.org and click on the Saferide link.