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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — To combat drunken driving, a new program that rewards designated drivers is under way here.

“Choose to Ride” is designed to get people interested in being a designated driver for friends and co-workers at any of 18th Services Squadron’s establishments, according to Bonnie Runge, 18th Services marketing director. The Kadena United Service Organizations and 18th Services sponsor the program.

To participate, Runge said, drivers simply see the facility’s duty manager, hand over their license and sign in. They will then be handed a wristband, signifying they will be given free nonalcoholic drinks all night. Drivers are also entered in weekly and monthly drawings, which is what Runge hopes will entice more people to sign up.

“Designated drivers are going above and beyond, and they weren’t getting any recognition,” she said. “I guess some could view [the role] as a drag … In the past, people didn’t want to be identified as a driver, but now they have an incentive.”

Runge said weekly drawings will give four drivers prizes such as hats, T-shirts or telephone calling cards. In monthly drawings, one person will win one of the following: an Information, Tickets and Travel trip for two; sightseeing tour with the Aero Club; 10 rounds of golf; Kadena Services gift certificates; dinner for two at any Kadena club; a Chili’s restaurant gift certificate; or free bowling.

The trial period of the program is running until August, when one driver will win the grand prize: a new $2,000 laptop computer, Runge said. Every time an individual signs up to be a designated driver, he or she is entered for the prize drawings.

With the program in its infancy, Runge said an average of 10 to 15 designated drivers each weekend have signed up. She added the program is available to all eligible club and facility patrons.

For those who don’t have a designated driver, the free taxi program is still available.

Runge said if someone who has been drinking at one of 18th Services facilities can show proof they drove to the facility and have no designated driver, they can receive a voucher for a free taxi ride to their home, no matter how far away.

With both programs in full swing, Runge said anyone who drinks has no reason to get behind the wheel.

“We just want to tell people that they have some options out there,” Runge said. “There are no more excuses to drink and drive.”


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