Lakeland tow truck drivers report zero calls for sober rides

LAKELAND, Fla. - The holiday weekend is coming to a close, but the celebration may still be going on.

In an effort to curb drinking and driving AAA has offered sober rides home with the “Tow to Go” advertisement since 1998.

But does it really work? ABC Action News hit the road Monday to find out who is using it.

“We work in rain, daytime, morning, around the clock,” Mark Cygan with Lakeland Wrecker said.

Lakeland Wrecker and any other tow truck company in the nation works non-stop helping the public anytime of the day. And long Labor Day weekends like this, drivers expect extra calls.

But this past weekend, Lakeland Wrecker, along with at least five other companies say they have zero reports of drunk dialers looking for a sober ride home.

Mr. Cygan would like to think the best of the drivers in Polk County, saying maybe they have learned.

“There’s a lot of enforcement, it seems like most people have learned not to drive and drink,” Cygan said.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Police and other surrounding cities have introduced extra DUI patrols on holiday weekends. And all are spreading the word about the AAA free sober rides with participating truck drivers like Lakeland Wrecker.

Mother Against Drunk Driving also revs up their enforcement, advocating for sober driving during holidays, and all year round.

“St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, all of those holidays we do put out more on messaging, we do want people to remember to find a designated driver or use one of the share rides,” Mary Dean with MADD said.

Mary Dean lost a family member 23 years ago to driving. Chris Blanton was hit and killed on August 6, 1995.

“We loved him so much he was part of our family,” Mary Dean says it may have been 23 years ago but the pain remains as strong as if it just happened yesterday.

We asked Mary what she thought of the fewer calls for sober rides using the AAA service. She says it doesn’t mean there are less drunk drivers out on the road.

“In 2015 our fatality rate and injuries rate increased by 3.2 percent,” she said.

Both Mark and Mary hope the reason people aren’t using the “Tow to Go” program is because of the more popular sober ride choices like Lyft and Uber. And says they don’t mind which option they choose, as long as everyone arrives home safely.

“I would rather go tow somebody for free and not let them drive and not worry about them as opposed to going out and picking them up at a crash and their life being change forever,” Cygan said.

AAA is offering Tow To Go Service through 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246

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