Voorhees and Evesham announce extension of free Saving Lives designated driver program

Intoxicated Voorhees and Evesham residents can get free rides home through Uber from bars and restaurants in the two townships.

Voorhees Mayor Michael Mignogna speaks about the extension at a press conference this week.

Residents of Evesham and Voorhees townships have another year of no excuses ahead of them if they get caught trying to drive home impaired after drinking alcohol at local bars and restaurants.

For that, residents can thank Evesham and Voorhees officials for announcing another one-year extension of the free Evesham/Voorhees Saving Lives designated driver program.

For nearly two years now, the program has partnered with private transportation company Uber to provide residents of Evesham, and later Voorhees, with free rides home from all of the nearly 30 bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in the two townships.

Rather than taking the risk of trying to drive home in their own vehicles, impaired residents are only a few phone clicks and swipes away from a free ride through an Uber vehicle every day of the week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

With the geo-location technology of smartphones, Uber is able to determine if an app user is at an Evesham or Voorhees establishment. In addition to the normal Uber vehicle options, Uber’s app will present residents at those locations with an option to use the Saving Lives Program.

When Uber drivers arrive, the drivers will then only take residents to their residential address within the limits of the two townships.

At a news conference last week, Evesham Mayor Randy Brown spoke of designing the program two years ago with Evesham Chief of Police Christopher Chew and the success township officials have seen since.

Through the program’s two-year history, Brown said the non-profit foundation established to fund the program has spent more than $10,000, bringing somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 people to their homes.

With rides averaging around $5, Brown said the nonprofit foundation funding the program continues to operate solely through private donations and without the use of taxpayer dollars.

While the earliest days of the program saw the use of township buses and partnerships with private designated driver services, the program eventually relied predominantly on Uber.

“We talk about in politics private-public partnerships, well today is truly a day that we can proclaim the success of private-public partnership,” Brown said.

Brown also praised Evesham neighbor Voorhees Township, which joined in the program in December 2015.

Although Brown is a Republican and Voorhees Mayor Michael Mignogna is a Democrat, the two men said they saw past party affiliation when it came to saving lives, and Mignogna quickly had Voorhees join the Saving Lives Program when offered the chance.

“The one thing we agree on as elected officials is that the safety of our families is the most important job, our most important role is keeping them safe,” Mignogna said.

Each mayor also said they would also be continuing efforts in the coming months to further educate the owners and employees of local alcohol-serving establishments about the program and how to promote the program to their patrons.

Last week’s press conference also saw additional donations upward of $1,000 to the program’s foundation from local business Evesham Mortgage and soon-to-be-opened Chickie’s & Pete’s.