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Evesham to provide residents shuttles and designated drivers home from bars and restaurants in town

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On May 24, 2009, Evesham teenager Shawn English was driving home from a date with his girlfriend when an intoxicated driver sped through the traffic light at Route 70 and Maple Avenue, killing English at age 19.

Evesham Mayor Randy Brown and Police Chief Christopher Chew each recalled the tragic event when they recently announced “Evesham Saves Lives,“ a new pilot program that will pick up intoxicated residents at establishments in town, free of charge, and then ferry those residents to their homes in an effort to eliminate drunk driving.

The program will be effective for 30 days starting Sept. 4 and will work through a combination of Evesham-run shuttles and the Camden County-based “Sober Sam” designated driver service.

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Evesham residents who believe they are too drunk to drive can use the new and free Evesham Police Department mobile app to view shuttle service schedules or request Sober Sam drivers.

The shuttle service will have five stops serving nine bars and restaurants in town, and once residents are on board, they will be taken directly to their homes.

Those residents who don’t wish to wait for a shuttle can instead call for a team of Sober Sam drivers, a driver to take the resident directly to their home and a driver to also drive the resident’s vehicle to their home.

Those who live outside Evesham and find they are unable to drive after patronizing an Evesham establishment will also be eligible for discounted service from Sober Sam.

Brown said he first started discussing the program with Chew about a month ago when he heard three Evesham residents were arrested for DUIs.

“We’re at the point now where we’re probably going to exceed the most DUI arrests in Evesham Township history — a number that I’m proud of as mayor, but a number that I’m concerned with, because a lot of them are Evesham residents,” Brown said.

Chew said since 2010, the department has arrested more than 1,050 individuals for DWI, averaging about 190 per year, although this year Chew said the the department is estimated to reach 220 DWI arrests. Of those, Chew said more than 65 percent were from Marlton.

“That’s inexcusable, and as an organization, as a township, we decided to step up and started this program,” Chew said.

Along with the township and Sober Sam service, the program will also be a collaboration of the Marlton Business Association, Evesham Celebrations Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a grant from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund.

As such, Brown said no local tax dollars would be used for the pilot program.

“This is a great program,” said Robert Kelley on behalf of the MBA. “It’s a win-win for our businesses, for our citizens and for our patrons.”

Evesham councilmember and ECF member Ken D’Andrea also praised the program.

“If we can be a small part of saving lives, reducing DUIs and supporting our residents … it would continue to assist in our mission and vision to celebrate all things and community experiences in Evesham Township,” D’Andrea said.

While some larger police forces across the United States have similar apps and programs, Brown said Evesham’s program was one of the first of its kind for a community Evesham’s size.

Brown said the program will be considered a success if it saves even just one life.

“A metric, in my opinion, is if we’ve saved one life or if we’ve brought one person home — one person,” Brown said. “As mayor, I’ve been to three of those funerals in my first two years, and I never, ever want to go back.”

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