Safe Ride Home Returns for New Year's Eve 12-21-15

Safe Ride Home Returns for New Year's Eve
Posted on 12/21/2015

Five south suburbs have again joined forces to reduce the number of drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve.

The Village of Orland Park began the Safe Ride Home Program in 1994, with Palos Heights, Mokena, Tinley Park and New Lenox all coming on board over the last several years.

“Police departments work every day to protect motorists from impaired drivers,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “This cooperative effort among five towns with the help of the Michael P. Gordon Foundation stresses the importance not getting behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink --- not only on New Year’s Eve but every day of the year.”

This year’s program is funded with a grant from the Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation.
Chicago Police Officer Michael Gordon, age 30, was on patrol on August 8, 2004 when, at 5:45 a.m., at the intersection of Jackson and Sacramento Boulevards in Chicago, his squad car was hit by an intoxicated, unlicensed driver who ran a red light, killing Officer Gordon and seriously injuring his partner.

“The Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation is proud to be a part of this program,” said Heather Gordon, foundation president. “We have experienced firsthand the devastating impact of losing a family member to drunk driving so it’s especially meaningful to support our police departments and community leaders who recognize the need for safer streets on New Year’s Eve. It is our hope that more communities will be proactive and offer alternatives like Safe Ride Home.”

A native of Cicero, Michael Gordon was an Eagle Scout who graduated from Morton West High School. He received his law enforcement degree from the College of DuPage and served in the United States Army in the late 1990s. When he was killed, he had been with the Chicago Police Department for two years.

Further information about the Michael P. Gordon Foundation is available at www.michaelpgordon.org.

Bridget Burns, who serves on the Gordon Foundation Board, added, “It’s no secret that New Year’s Eve often results in late nights and libations. I’m pleased that the Safe Ride Home Program can offer residents the opportunity to be a part of the celebration while still being able to arrive home safely at the end of the night.”

Free rides home from establishments within the participating towns will be available beginning at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31 until 4:00 a.m. on Friday, January 1. Drivers will transport revelers home and not to other establishments.

“More than 100 people took advantage of Safe Ride Home last year, knowing they were too impaired to drive,” said Orland Park Trustee Dan Calandriello, chair of the village’s Public Safety Committee. “Leave your car where it is and call for a ride.”

Residents of the participating towns may call Via Limo at 708/349-7700 to request a free ride home. They must specify that they are calling for the Safe Ride Home Program.

“If you’ve had too much to drink on New Year’s Eve, Safe Ride Home will do just that --- get you home safely,” said Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy.

The chief added, “Plan ahead now. Designate a driver for your holiday celebrations. If you find that you can't drive on New Year's Eve, call the number. No questions asked. Just don’t get behind the wheel of a car.”