By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
AAA Oklahoma will once again offer its free Tipsy Tow community service for year-end holiday partiers. The program gives intoxicated drivers an option to getting behind the wheel and creating a danger for themselves and others.
If holiday revelers feel unsafe behind the wheel after drinking, Tipsy Tow will take them home, along with up to one additional passenger as well as their vehicle, at no charge, no questions asked, within a 15-mile radius of the point of pickup, day or night during the 16+-day period.
“There are just too many alternatives to climbing behind the wheel after drinking,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Serve original zero-proof mocktails at holiday parties (new recipes available at AAA.com/mocktail), call a ride-sharing service or a cab, use designated drivers or call AAA for a free Tipsy Tow. Don’t tempt fate – minimize your risk.”
AAA Oklahoma’s Tipsy Tow is available now until 4 a.m. Monday, January 2, 2017 in metropolitan Tulsa, metropolitan Oklahoma City, Lawton, Ardmore, Tahlequah, Shawnee, Enid, Muskogee and Bartlesville. The service is free and open to both AAA members and non-members.
“Each year in Oklahoma, 35 percent of all traffic crashes involve drugs or alcohol,” Mai said. “Over the holidays, that number often jumps to more than 40 percent.
“This annual community service works because it brings attention to the dangers of drinking and driving beyond just giving a drunk driver a safe ride home,” said Mai.
“We’re promoting not just Tipsy Tow but also the use of designated drivers and a caring attitude and heightened awareness among drivers across Oklahoma.”
AAA is North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization with nearly 55 million members.
“It’s never a good idea to drive after drinking,” Mai said. “We’re always hopeful that more and more Oklahomans will call us for a Tipsy Tow. We know many holiday partiers go ahead and take that chance behind the wheel when they really know they shouldn’t.”
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, every day almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver – that amounts to one death every 51 minutes.
Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said, “I urge people to be responsible if their plans include alcohol during the holidays.
“Those who drink and drive will be arrested and jailed, hopefully before they have the opportunity to injure or kill an innocent person or family who wind up as an unintended target,” Whetsel added. “Celebrate responsibly and enjoy the holidays.”
More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year.
The auto club predicts more than 900,000 Oklahomans will travel over the year-end holiday period, a slight increase from the year before. In Oklahoma, gas prices are about 20 cents more expensive per gallon than they were last year.
According to Mai, based on past year’s data, AAA is ready to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 million motorists nationwide, including 7,900 in Oklahoma, during what AAA defines as the holiday period.
The top reasons for these calls to AAA Oklahoma are expected to be for a tow, because of a dead battery and to service members who have locked their keys in their vehicle.
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning-on-the-go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
In addition to help on the road, AAA Oklahoma serves its 376,000 members statewide with a wide range of personal insurance, financial and automotive services through branch offices, a regional operations center and online at AAA.com.
To be safe, Oklahoma holiday motorists should call 800-AAA-HELP (800-222-4357) and if needed, make sure they ask for Tipsy Tow.