By Lisa Autz
Photo courtesy of James Palinsad.
The holidays always bring a surge of parties and celebrations likely to be pouring with alcohol. At the end of the night, the situation often occurs where drunk rationale persuades people to drive home, as no one wishes to leave a car behind to potentially get towed or vandalized.
Even those who rarely consume alcohol are more likely to participate in drinking festivities, leaving a greater danger in the supply of drunk drivers on the road for the holiday season. In 2012, 1,829 people were killed in car accidents during the holiday period of Dec 10 to 31; of those fatal accidents, 31 percent were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.
While many campaigns advise the designation of a driver before going out, depending on others to be cautious hasn’t always proven the best prevention method. That’s why communities and entrepreneurs alike have thought of unique options for those who end up drunk and stranded with their own car.
These services include personal chauffeur rental and volunteer-base driver services to get both you and your car home safely. Currently, over 600 listings of companies in 45 states offer services aimed to transport intoxicated individuals home, according to the National Directory of Designated Driver Services.
New York, for instance, has seven options for an on-call, personal driver.
StearClear is just one American company that allows people access to an affordable drive home in the comfort of their car. The app takes the traditional chauffeur model and reinvents it for the modern world by allowing anyone to request a driver within minutes by the tap of a finger.
Jordan Kreitz, vice president and co-owner of StearClear, spoke with BTR about how the company saw the need for a business.
“The reason that most people drink and drive is because people don’t want to be separated from their car,” explains Kreitz. “There is not really any solution out there to alleviate that problem.”
The startup began addressing the issue in 2011 and has since expanded to a multitude of cities across the US. Using a “tag team” method, two drivers arrive in a vehicle. While one person drives the drinker’s car, the other follows behind to serve the next customer in need.
Kreitz continues that her company has been able to find a strong following for their distinct service, especially during the holidays.
“From Labor day through New Year’s we are at our busiest time of the year due to the amount of socializing events going on,” claims Kreitz. “We have developed a real niche for someone who has driven themselves to their destination–whether it be a dinner, doctor appointment, or party–and for whatever reason is unable to get themselves home.”
Though there are many volunteer-run designated driver services across North America, most are run by small community nonprofits that only focus on the neighborhood or town at hand. Operation Red Nose Sudbury, for instance, is a volunteer campaign that drops off drivers within the specific city of Sudbury in Ontario, Canada.
However, the major goal with StearClear is to allow drivers to sign up as independent contractors, make a profit, and expand a service that can cover all the party-goers throughout the nation.
As for customers, utilizing the app is similar to the black car service of Uber. A credit card number is kept in the system, automatically charging $20 per pick up plus $2.50 per mile. Also a per-hour fee can be set up for events such as bar crawls so riders can be worry-free throughout the night when hopping from one watering hole to the next.
Kreitz suggests making an appointment in advance with a driver to guarantee yourself a prompt, safe ride.
“Get on a driver’s schedule and have a great night knowing you and your car will get home safe at the end of the night,” she recommends.
These driving services offer an innovative approach to providing additional alternatives for people under the influence, especially when traditional taxi services are in the highest demand during the holidays. Now everyone can enjoy the privilege of tanking out on eggnog merrily and safely for their seasonal celebrations.