TADD nearing 1,200 free rides | ParkRecord.com

TADD nearing 1,200 free rides

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

Audie Wheeler, owner of Advanced Transportation, took an evening stroll down Main Street three years ago and watched as bar patrons stumbled into their cars. The thought of a large group of inebriated drivers on the road didn’t appeal to him, so he started offering his friends free taxicab rides home and back to their cars in the morning.

Soon after, Wheeler started getting calls from people he had never met seeking free rides. Wheeler didn’t mind. He just wanted drunk drivers off the street. He called Marty Ogburn, a friend from Atlanta who was planning to move to Park City, to tell him of his idea.

Taxis Against Drunk Driving was born.

TADD became official December 2004 and since has given more than 1,157 free rides to people not wanting to get behind the wheel. The program, which uses Advanced Transportation as its primary carrier, gives free next-morning rides back to the cars of patrons who decide to take a taxi home after a night of drinking.

"Most people who drink and drive do so because they need their car the following morning," Ogburn said. "That’s why we designed the free-ride program to get your car the morning after for free. It only takes a TADD of responsibility to save lives."

Ogburn said he read statistics put out by the Park City Police Department that reported that the number of driving-under-the-influence citations dropped 45 percent from January to June 2006 when compared with the same time period last year.

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"I’ll use the 80-20 rule; I’d say we’re 80 percent responsible for that statistic," Ogburn said. "TADD is the only proactive solution to the large problem of drinking and driving. MADD and The Century Council do great work with outreach programs, lobbying and legislation, but TADD actually takes the inebriated driver off the street."

"You can replace sheet metal, but you can’t replace a life," he continued. "We’re in the business of saving lives. We have prevented ‘X’ amounts of accidents, ‘X’ amounts of DUI citations, ‘X’ amounts of deaths. Maybe it was your friend, maybe it was mine."

The program is supported by the Park City Police Department, Advanced Automotive Services, Crescent Mortgage, Advanced Outdoor Services, Park City Municipal Corporation, Print Depot, Copy Depot and Big 4 Distributing in Provo, a major Budweiser and Michelob distributor.

"The Park City Police Department has agreed that if a user is parked in a place where they get a parking ticket, as long as they use TADD the department will wave the ticket because they were a responsible citizen," Ogburn said.

Despite strong support from community organizations and businesses, Ogburn said there are still obstacles to growing the program and getting the word out.

"TADD needs to consistently educate the Park City community of this program," he said. "A new group of tourists check in every day. It is very important they become aware of TADD upon arrival so they can be responsible while enjoying Park City."

"There is also a new group of locals and ski bums move to Park City every season," he continued. "They are usually drinkers here to work and have fun and we help them stay responsible. A new group of 21-year-olds find a place to have a drink and we want to educate them on how to get home."

Ogburn said the program could reach more people, and even go national, if TADD had more capital.

"This education of our community is very expensive," he said. "We are in the business of saving lives and without donations we cannot succeed. Donations would also make it possible to make the ride free both ways, not just back to their cars."

Ogburn, who has been in business for himself since graduating college, said he wanted to be a part of TADD because he wanted to do something that would make a difference in the community. He wanted to help people.

"I’m not the youngest chicken on the block anymore and I this is probably my last hurrah and I wanted to do something that would matter," he said. "And we’re not just talking about saving people who are driving cars. There are a lot of runners, walkers and cyclists out there who this will serve as well. Statistics show that non-drinkers actually have more to gain by this than the drinkers do."

The taxi hotline is (866) 647-3999 and taxis are ready and waiting until 3 a.m. Between 3 and 7 a.m. drivers are on-call. To donate, call the hotline or send a check to TADD to P.O. Box 681593 in Park City, 84068.