'Tow to Go' on call for New Year's

By Ed Brock

Standing behind her bar at Caf? DBS in Morrow, bartender Ronda Miller was happy to learn about the "Tow to Go" program.

The program, sponsored by AAA Auto Club South and Budweiser beer, will offer a free ride home, and a tow for their car, for those who have celebrated the New Year a bit too much.

"A lot of people don't like to call a cab because they don't want to leave their cars," Miller said. "They say 'I've got to go to work in the morning.'"

Another towing company had offered a similar service to the bar, but for a price unlike "Tow to Go."

"Free is good. But if you're charging $75 to take somebody home, that's not good," Miller said.

Begun in 1998, "Tow to Go" provided rides for about 1,300 people last year, including 57 in the Atlanta area and one in Clayton County, said Matt Nasworthy, "Tow to Go" project manager. It started at Thanksgiving and will continue until New Year's Day 2005.

This year the program will also be available in Savannah as well as the entire state of Florida and Nashville, Tenn. Those in need can call on the service at 1-800-AAA-HELP (222-4357).

"'Tow to Go' obviously helps those drivers who find themselves in a dangerous situation, but more importantly it keeps a major hazard off our roads," said Ed Schatzman, senior vice president of automotive services for AAA. "This program protects countless motorists who may otherwise be left in the path of a potential drunk driver."

Roland Kimble of Jonesboro has heard of "Tow to Go" but never had to use it. He would if the need arose for him or a friend, however.

"Any time you can offer some kind of service in which people don't have to drive drunk, it's a good program," Kimble said.

According to eHow.com, there are certain signs that other drivers can use to identify a drunk driver.

Cars that zizzag across lanes, make wide turns, brake or accelerate rapidly or have delayed responses to traffic signals.

Cars that swerve dangerously close to the curb or objects along the road.

Cars that take up two lanes at once, are on the wrong side of the road or go off the road.

Cars with their headlights off at night or that are going 10 mph or more below the speed limit.

Drivers whose actions are inconsistent with their signals.

Myths about drunk driving persist, according to 21st Century Insurance, and celebrants should be wary not to fall for them.

One rumor is that drinking only beer and wine but not hard liquor will minimize the intoxicating effects. A 12 oz. can of beer and a 5 oz. glass of wine contain the same amount of alcohol as a 1 1/2 oz. serving of hard liquor.

Also, a person who does not appear to be drunk may still have impaired driving skills after even one drink, and coffee does not make a person sober.