GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Army garrisons in Europe and the U.S. may copy a program that is on track to halve the number of drunken driving incidents at Hohenfels this year.

Daniel Voglesong, safety manager of U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels, said Monday that the number of incidents at Hohenfels has fallen drastically this fiscal year (from Oct.¥ 1) and is expected to be about half the 27 recorded in 2006/2007.

“We have had a 50 percent reduction in DUIs (driving under the influence) this year. We have only had eight since Oct. 1. That’s half as many as at this time last year,” he said.

The sharp decline in DUIs is due to a program that started Sept. 27 last year, giving soldiers, civilian employees or family members who have run short of money access to a fund that will pay their taxi driver when they get back on post, Voglesong said.

“The fund is set up with voluntary contributions and managed by the installation operations center at the garrison headquarters. They pay the taxi driver if a soldier runs out of money and has no way to get home or they are too drunk to drive and need a ride home,” he said.

Soldiers stationed at Hohenfels get an emergency ride home card with the operations center phone number — 09472-83-2819 — printed on it.

People who use the service are encouraged to repay the cost of the taxi ride to the fund by their next payday. So far all of the soldiers who have used the service have repaid the money taken from the fund for their taxis, Voglesong said.

The Hohenfels program has drawn interest from other garrisons in Europe and from as far away as Fort Riley, Kan., Voglesong said.

“We have had people talking about copying our ideas. U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern and USAG Stuttgart are talking about using it,” he said.

At Grafenwöhr the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment is talking about starting a dial-a-driver program. Similar programs have been done at unit level, by the V Corps Special Troops Battalion, for example, but never at garrison level, Voglesong said.

At Hohenfels soldiers typically need a ride home from Nuremberg, a favorite party location for soldiers stationed there, Voglesong said.

The 80 to 100 euro cost of a taxi ride from Nuremberg to Hohenfels can put a big dent in the fund so the garrison is always looking for donations, Voglesong said.

The garrison encourages soldiers to ride the train from Nuremberg to the closest train station to Hohenfels, at Parsberg, he said.

If there is a designated driver a group of soldiers can drive their own car back from Parsberg. If nobody is sober a cab ride back to base from the station costs about 25 euros, he said.

In the last two years nobody at the base has died in a DUI-related incident, but a few years ago a drunk soldier was killed while riding a motorcycle without a helmet, Voglesong said.

USAG Hohenfels commander Lt. Col. Gary Bloomberg said in a recent command publication that the dial-a-driver program is an example of how command emphasis and innovative programs can cut DUIs.

“If one is prevented, it is a success,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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