HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Let ‘Home Safe’ card be your designated wingman

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --

As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, people tend to spend more nights out and about.

However, a fun summer night out can quickly become an end-of-night dilemma when alcohol is involved and people consider driving under the influence.

However, there are options for Airmen who find themselves in such a predicament.

By now, most McConnell members should know about Airmen Against Drunk Driving, an organization that offers those who have been drinking rides home on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. But, what happens when Airmen find themselves in a bad situation past 3 a.m. one weekend, or stranded on a week night?

Now there's an alternative solution, a new program called "Home Safe."

It uses a tangible reminder, a brightly colored business card, which Airmen pay $15 for and carry in their wallets and purses to use as a pass for taxi ride home.

"The 'Home Safe' card is a pocket-ready designated driver. It has no exploration date and works 24/7. It's anonymous, transferable and a good value. It's also flexible," said Master Sergeant Gregory Diehl, 22nd Operations Group first sergeant.

The "Home Safe" card allows Airmen to ride home to their private residence or back to McConnell from the local area via a local taxi company - provided the pick up point is within an eight mile radius of McConnell or the person's residence.

"The $15 card gets you a $20 taxi ride - that's a good deal in itself, and it serves as a reminder when all the DUI briefings are forgotten or suppressed by drinks and loud music in a club," said Sergeant Diehl.

"The idea is that when a person pays their tab or grabs cash for a round of drinks, they will see the card in their wallet or purse and are reminded to get home safely," he said.

Each card can only be used once regardless of the mileage traveled during a ride home. However, up to four Airmen can travel to the same location using one card; though, there is a $1 fee per extra person. Plus, Airmen can combine cards.

"Two Airmen living in a suburb of Wichita can combine their cards for a safe way home as long as they don't exceed the combined mileage distance of the cards," Sergeant Diehl said.

The "Home Safe" program was developed after McConnell experienced a rise in DUIs, which have occurred both on and off base. The base experienced a total of 11 DUIs in 2006 but has had eight in 2007, and it's only May.

Not only does the program offer a discounted ride home, it can be looked as a get-out-of-jail-free card. More importantly, it could be a life-saver.

Consider the following scenario:

A group of four Airmen living in the dorms plan a fun Friday out. After a long work week, they all would like to go enjoy some drinks. All of them want to have fun and nobody wants to be the designated driver.

With the "Home Safe" card, they do not need to worry about who will not drink.

The "Home Safe" card can be purchased through first sergeants or unit AADD representatives. For the time being, it's a trial program, so people will only be able to purchase cards through the beginning of June. AADD is also using the program as a fundraiser and makes .25 cents per card sold.

"Airmen should set some money aside next payday and get them before the fundraiser is over" said Sergeant Diehl.

If the card is a success among Airmen, he hopes to see it sold in the future as well.