News | May 26, 2010

Local taxi company, Langley team up to offer 'safe ride home'

By Airman 1st Class Jason J. Brown 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The summer season is here, drawing Langley's Airmen out of the house and into the Hampton Roads culture and nightlife, enjoying the sight and sounds of a "Seven Cities" summer. However, sometimes the party goes overboard, giving intoxicated drivers the opportunity to make a potentially fatal mistake.

Thanks to Langley's Airmen Against Drunk Driving program and Yellow Cab of Hampton, there is no excuse to drink and drive.

AADD offers rides for intoxicated Airmen and dependents while in the peninsula area. The program operates with the help of volunteers that standby for calls, waiting to pick up passengers who have had too much to drink. Drivers volunteer for holiday weekend shifts, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, when more people are out enjoying the festivities.

However, bars, clubs and restaurants are open year round, and people often venture beyond the peninsula for nightlife hot spots, such as Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Hampton Roads Transportation, Inc.'s YCH steps in to bring Airmen and family members home safely.

The service, called "Safe Ride Home," is part of the first sergeants' Diamond Ride program. Yellow Cab drivers are on-call, ready to provide service to eligible passengers. The first sergeants and the taxi company formed the partnership in 1992, and have provided hundreds of rides over the years, said Frank Azzalina, YCH director of business development.

"Don't plan to fail," remarked Tech. Sgt. Leon Johnson, AADD vice president. "Between our drivers and Yellow Cab, our Airmen always have a way home. At no point does anyone need to get behind the wheel when they've been drinking."

To use the service, Airmen and dependents should follow these steps:

1. Call dispatch at 855-0000.
2. Provide the account number, #1119.
3. Show military identification card to driver of cab.
4. Print your name and sign the provided form.

Even if a passenger doesn't have enough money to cover the fare, Safe Ride Home uses a "ride now, pay later" system, using payroll deductions to cover the cost of the ride.

"We know sometimes money gets tight, especially for younger Airmen," said Johnson. "There's nothing more important than getting our people back safely, that's why we have the deferred payment system."

In addition to late-night bar and club pick-ups, Safe Ride Home also assists stranded motorists.

"Of course you can use it when you had a bit too much to drink, but we have many pickups that are for cars breaking down, flat tires, stuck somewhere without money," Azzalina said. "We have and will continue to pick up Langley personnel wherever they may be."

AADD will offer Memorial Day weekend service May 27-30, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. For pick up during these times, call 855-1111 or 855-3333. Airmen interested in volunteering can e-mail Tech. Sgt. Leon Johnson at Eight volunteers, four males and four females, are needed for each of two shifts, 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
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