ESCANABA - The free Liferides program will once again be available in Delta County on New Year's Eve. Rides are available from 11 p.m. on Monday through 5 a.m. on Tuesday and are offered in an effort to prevent alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities.
This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Liferides program, sponsored by OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group and the Island Resort & Casino. The "Liferides" program was introduced in Delta County in 1983. New Year's Eve was chosen because of its association with parties and celebrations involving alcohol and the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities on that night, according to Lanna Scannell, community and government relations manager and director of development at OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group.
JN Taxi and Escanaba Taxi will be offering rides throughout Delta County, with assistance from City Cab of Gladstone, which will also offer rides in Gladstone. Additionally, Charter Celebration buses has volunteered to offer bus services at no cost for the evening. Bus services will be available along the main streets of Escanaba and Gladstone to pick up passengers traveling shorter distances.
For a free Liferide, call 786-4448 or 786-1122, or in Gladstone 420-2939 - or watch for a bus.
Within the past 28 years since the Liferides program began, Scannell said there have been no alcohol-related traffic accidents or fatalities in Delta County, a trend she hopes will continue this year. In addition to taking advantage of the free Liferides program, she said many people plan ahead by choosing a designated driver or make plans to stay at a hotel or motel or with friends and family rather than going out on the roads if they've been drinking.
Much credit also goes to local law enforcement officials, whose zero tolerance for drunk driving help keep the community's roads safe all year long, said Dave Feathers, public relations manager for the Island Resort & Casino.
"Liferides is a program in which the whole community participates. By planning ahead and making sure people who've had too much to drink do not get behind a wheel, we can keep our highways safe and prevent tragedies," he said.
The New Year's Eve Liferides program is also supported this year by baybank, the Delta County Jaycees, Escanaba Rotary Club, the Sackerson Foundation, Escanaba area credit unions, Escanaba Noon Kiwanis, the Community Foundation, Substance Abuse and Violence Education Council, Skradski-Boyce Funeral Homes and GFWC. Tax-deductible donations to support Liferides may be sent to the OSF Foundation at 3401 Ludington St., Escanaba. Checks should be made payable to the OSF Foundation and designated for "Liferides."