Service gets drinkers home safe

2011-08-19 00:00

A FEW drinks, a crashed car, jail and perhaps even a dead loved one. This is the motivation for three local business owners to relaunch HomeSafe.

Originally started in October last year by Colin Dodd, HomeSafe provided a driving service for those who imbibed a little too freely at the pub.

People sign up with the business, drive their own vehicle to whichever party or pub they are heading to and after unashamedly exceeding the limit call a driver to ferry them and their car safely back home.

A second HomeSafe driver follows in the company car to fetch the temporary chauffeur.

With Dodd working on his own and running another business, the project became financially and administratively unsustainable.

Now he is back with Kyron Portwig and Mervyn Bremner to make sure “no one drinks and drives”.

“I lost six friends in six months from drinking and driving,” Portwig said. That is why he has got involved with the business.

KZN transport department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said he did not have the statistics on hand about the city’s drunk drivers, but KZN is “the worst province in terms of drunken driving and fatalaties”.

Ncalane said, “We will support it [HomeSafe] as government [if it is] going to assist in saving lives”.

Ncalane said initiatives have been implemented between tavern owners and meter taxi operators to try and reduce road deaths.

The business trio are appealing to other businesses to help the cause by sponsoring anything they can, “even a tank of petrol”, Portwig said.

Regardless of corporate support, they are going ahead with the project and hope to launch it by the end of September.

For a monthly subscription fee of R150, plus R100 each time the service is used, car owners can wake up with limbs and vehicles intact and a clear conscience, but unfortunately still with a hangover.

If the trip is to Pietermaritzburg’s outlying areas, it will cost a little more.

The prospective member will notify their insurance companies, sign a contract, pay their monthly fee and receive a membership number.

Thereafter the new member, if slightly sozzled, will phone the call centre and will be shuttled to safety.

They will begin with a small team of drivers and operate between 6 pm and 2 am and a little later on weekends.

KZN Department of Transport’s deputy manager of road safety Bongani Nxumalo said, “We would like to see this extended to other places”.

Many accidents happen in the early hours of the morning after parties.

“It’s a crisis, but people continue to drink and drive,” Nxumalo said.

Caro Smit from South Africans Against Drunk Driving said it’s “absolutely wonderful” and she “really applauds them for relaunching”.

Smit and Nxumalo said road blocks will increase drastically in the next few months.

“People need to change their mindset,” Smit said.

HomeSafe can be contacted at homesafepmb@gmail.com.

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