Crawford County SafeRide

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Crawford County SafeRide program continues to grow

By Ted Pennekamp


The SafeRide program continues to grow in Wisconsin and in Crawford County. Each year, more people are given safe, free rides home rather than driving while impaired by alcohol, thus making the roads safer for everyone.

Now in its 32nd year, the Tavern League of Wisconsin’s SafeRide Program continues to be a model for the rest of the nation. The Tavern League’s commitment to keep impaired drivers off Wisconsin’s roads is documented in its recently released SafeRide Survey of more than 60 counties in the state. 

In 2016-2017, Tavern League of Wisconsin (TLW)-member establishments provided 95,203 free rides home to their patrons, a 15.8 percent increase from the previous year.

Thanks in part to the SafeRide program, Wisconsin has witnessed a 58 percent decline in alcohol related fatalities over the last 10 years while also experiencing a 47 percent decrease in injuries and a 38 percent reduction in crashes. In recent years, the number of SafeRides provided increased more than 150 percent, while program operations were expanded to 62 Wisconsin counties.

The cost of the SafeRide program, which is nearly $1 million, is shared by hardworking TLW members as well as funds generated by surcharges on OWI convictions.

According to TLW Executive Director Pete Madland, the program’s status as the largest and most successful alternative transportation program in the country to address the issue of operating a motor vehicle while impaired, is due to TLW members.

“We are very proud of our members who volunteer their time to ensure the program continues to thrive,” said Madland.

The Tavern League’s SafeRide program has become so well-known throughout the country, Madland said, it’s now considered the standard for other states as they strive to eliminate drunk driving on their roadways. In fact, the National Conference of Mayors has recognized the SafeRide program for its effort to reduce alcohol-related crashes and fatalities.

The SafeRide program began in Crawford County in November of 2014, said Bridget Nichols of Prairie du Chien, whose husband, Scott, is the Crawford County SafeRide Coordinator.

Nichols noted that the number of rides given and the number of riders has increased each year. In November and December of 2014, there were six rides given to nine riders. In 2015, the number of rides was 130 and the number of riders was 216. In 2016, there were 163 rides given to 340 riders. As of August of 2017, there have already been 241 rides and 462 riders, quite a jump from 2016.

Since SafeRide began in Crawford County, a total of 540 rides have been given and there have been 1,027 riders as of August of 2017.

Nichols, of Jim’s Bar of Prairie du Chien, said there are two volunteers in Prairie du Chien who provide SafeRides. She said there are two other volunteers in the Gays Mills area. The SafeRide program is always looking for more such volunteers. 

Nichols said the Crawford County SafeRide program purchased a van in April of 2016 to provide the rides. Depending upon the timing, some rides are done with the van and some are done with the volunteer’s private vehicles.

Hours for the van are from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturdays. The SafeRide program runs seven days per week.

Nichols said she encourages any patron who feels that they are impaired to ask the bartender about the SafeRide program.

For more information about the Crawford County SafeRide program, interested persons can go to the Crawford County Tavern League Facebook page.

“We’re proud that our ridership keeps increasing every year,” said Nichols.

Members of the Crawford County SafeRide Program are Bob’s Bar, The Blackhawk, the Prairie du Chien Eagle’s Club, Halver’s Town Tap of Gays Mills, the Horseshoe Bar, J&J On Main in Gays Mills, Jim’s Bar, Leisure Time Sports Bowl and Banquet, the No Bull Party Place in Seneca, the Prairie du Chien Country Club, Rowdy’s D&D, the Sawmill Saloon, The Tavern, the Depot, Main Street Bar and Grill in Eastman, and Pocket City Pub in McGregor, Iowa.

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