With thousands of people finalizing plans to visit White Plains during their New Year's Eve celebrations, community leaders have again organized a program they hope will prevent them from getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking.
The "New Year. Safe Ride." program will be available for anyone 21 and older who is in need of a sober ride home on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Heineken USA is sponsoring the program, which will offer rides to anyone in need from 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 3 a.m. New Year's Day. Pick-ups will be made at the intersection of E Post Road and Mamaroneck Avenue.
As many as 20,000 people are expected to visit downtown White Plains on New Year's Eve. White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said the program offers these people a safe alternative to driving if they choose to drink during their visit.
“White Plains has become an entertainment hub in our region, and we’re happy about that,” Roach said, joining several program supporters at Butterfield 8 on Mamaroneck Avenue. “But we expect people, when they come here to enjoy and have a good time, to do so responsibly.”
The fleet of between 20 and 30 vehicles will transport people from White Plains to anywhere in Westchester County. This is the ninth time Heineken USA, which is located in White Plains, has sponsored the program.
“The safe ride program allows us to commit to and to promote responsible consumption," said Stacey Tank, senior vice president and chief of corporate relations for the company, "to make it easier for consumers to make smart choices when they are getting home on New Year’s Eve.”
This year's celebration will begin with live music at 10 p.m. in downtown White Plains. There are also plans for a fireworks display and ball drop. As many as 2,000 people have used the safe ride program in the past. Kevin Nunn, executive director of the White Plains business improvement district, said offering safe rides has become a critical part of the city's New Year's celebration, which generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for downtown businesses.
Among those who helped kick-off the program was Carole Sears, president of the Westchester branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Sears' husband Andy was killed by a drunk driver in November 2002, and she stressed the importance of making a plan to safely arrive home before celebrating with alcohol.
“We are here because today because the week’s prior to New Years Day include some of the most dangerous days for drunk driving deaths," Sears said. “In fact, New Years Day is the most dangerous day of the year.”