State Rep. Floats ‘Safe Ride Home’ Legislation for the Drunk

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You know what sucks? Paying for cabs. And if Pennsylvania State Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria) has his way, you may be paying for fewer of them — at least at night, when you’re hammered. Because on January 2nd of this year, he circulated a memo in Harrisburg which would create something called the statewide Safe Ride Home Program — a proposal which would “provide transportation home for an intoxicated person.”

The revenues for the service would be paid for by “a fee assessed on liquor licenses” — that is, paid for by the fine establishments that actually serve the magical beverage that makes us like each other for brief windows of time.

The idea isn’t brand new. On Dec. 17 of last year (a month ago, that is), State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Bucks) sent out memoranda regarding a Safe Ride Home “Grant Pilot Program” which would provide safe transportation to people suspected of having a “prohibited blood alcohol concentration” — which, in Pennsylvania, is .08. The legislation would fund “local initiatives aimed at providing alternative means of transportation to intoxicated patrons from any premises licensed to sell alcohol beverages to their place of residence” — and may work with private organizations to figure it out.

“According to 2011 Crash Facts and Statistics issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 11,805 alcohol-related crashes occurred,” notes Greenleaf in his December 2012 memo. “Alcohol-related deaths in 2011 were 33% of the total traffic deaths, the same as in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  PSP enforcement statistics for 2010 showed that DUI arrests (17,695) were up over 4% from 2009.”

Despite the existence of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, drunk driving rates and deaths in Pennsylvania are up for discussion. According to some studies and analyses, we seem to be no better off than anyone else. A new “National Portrait of Drunk Driving” by IDV Solutions (h/t Keystone Politics) found such. That flies in the face of the PLCB’s own purpose, as well as a recent Keystone Research Center report that found that the Control Board’s standards actually saved 58 lives per year, by way of drunk driving. Another study, conducted by economists John Pulito and Antony Davies, found no difference in drunk driving fatalities. The conservative Commonwealth Foundation has called the KRC report a “disgrace.” Either way, a free ride is a free ride.

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