‘Choose Your Ride’ Drunk Driving Vehicle a Minor Sensation in North Charleston

August 9, 2019 by Dan McCue
North Charleston, South Carolina's 'Choose your ride," anti-DWI message vehicle. (Photo by Beth McCue)

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess knew he had to do something.

In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced South Carolina led the nation in drunk driving fatalities, with 44% of all auto accident deaths involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

In the United States as a whole, the data revealed, drunk driving accounted for only 31 percent of all car accident fatalities.

The report was a wake-up call for state and local law enforcement. Sure, some could rationalize the statistics – South Carolina’s traffic accident fatality rate historically leads the nation due in part to the seven interstate highways that pass through it and the large stretches of rural land where roads are less well maintained and animal crossings plentiful.

But no one could ignore the sobering reality – the state had a drinking and driving problem. Soon, a full court press was on to solve it.

In municipalities like North Charleston, the heavily traveled gateway to the tourism-friendly City of Charleston and the South Carolina coast, the response included frequent visits to local high schools and colleges to talk to young people about the issue, and the public display of wrecks involved in serious drunk driving accidents.

All signs suggest the effort was working. By 2018, the percentage of auto accident deaths related to drunk driving had declined to 32%.

But one day last year, Chief Burgess received a phone call he wasn’t expecting.

“It was from the mother of a child who was killed in an alcohol-related accident,” Burgess recalled. “We had set up one of our wrecks in a high-accident area, and it just happened to be near where she lived.

“Long story short, she said seeing the wreck and being reminded of the loss of her child every time she left her house was too much for her to handle,” the chief continued. “Of course, we immediately moved the wreck to another location, but it also got us thinking about how else we could do our messaging on this important issue.”

As it happened, the North Charleston Police Department already had a pair of specialty vehicles, one pink and one black but adorned with pink ribbons, that it uses in parades and other events to bring attention to the issue of breast cancer.

Burgess realized something similar could be done in regard to driving under the influence.

Last January, the “choose your ride” vehicle was born. With a front end painted in the colors of a North Charleston police cruiser, and the back end, like a yellow taxi, the unusual vehicle imparts three simple messages to anyone who happens upon it.

The first is “choose your ride.” Then, on the police end of the vehicle, the sidewall reads “this ride is about $10,000.” On the taxi end, it says “this ride is about $20.”

The funny thing is, people flock to wherever the vehicle parked.

On a recent Sunday, when the “choose your ride” vehicle was parked in a local recreation area called Park Circle, several people snapped selfies alongside the car, and joggers and bicyclists stopped to gawk.

“I think the public loves it because it’s both interesting to look at and it also speaks for itself,” Burgess said. “And I think that gets others, like the business community excited, because they appreciate the attention the vehicle brings to an issue that impacts both them and their customers.

“’Choose your ride’ really makes a statement, and that’s exactly what we wanted,” the chief said.

State News

Kentucky's New Governor Restores Voting Rights to 140,000 Nonviolent Felons State News
Kentucky's New Governor Restores Voting Rights to 140,000 Nonviolent Felons
December 13, 2019
by Dan McCue

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday restored the voting rights of more than 140,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, making good on an inaugural promise he made after being sworn in recently. The order signed by Beshear applies to Kentuckians who have committed nonviolent offenses and... Read More

Pennsylvania Election Fiasco Blamed on Incorrect Settings on New Voting Machines State News
Pennsylvania Election Fiasco Blamed on Incorrect Settings on New Voting Machines

PHILADELPHIA — When votes were tallied last month using new voting machines in Northampton County, it was quickly obvious that something had gone wrong. The numbers were so clearly inaccurate that a judge ordered the machines impounded, scanners were brought in to help count ballots, and... Read More

North Carolina’s Attorney General Joins in Criticism of UNC’s Silent Sam Deal with Confederates State News
North Carolina’s Attorney General Joins in Criticism of UNC’s Silent Sam Deal with Confederates

RALEIGH, N.C. — Add North Carolina’s attorney general to the list of those who don’t think the University of North Carolina System should give $2.5 million to the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans to preserve and display the Silent Sam Confederate monument. Josh Stein “personally believes... Read More

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Push To Block Wild Mustang Capture Environment
Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Push To Block Wild Mustang Capture
December 13, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote the House and Senate appropriations panels this week, asking them to withhold funding from a new Trump administration proposal to accelerate the capture of 130,000 wild horses across the west in the next decade. The House and Senate... Read More

Lawsuit Alleges Detroit Has Thousands of Dead Residents on Voting Rolls Voting
Lawsuit Alleges Detroit Has Thousands of Dead Residents on Voting Rolls

DETROIT — An advocacy group is suing Detroit election officials, claiming they violated the National Voter Registration Act by failing to properly maintain city voting rolls, including listing long-dead residents and keeping multiple registrations for the same people. The “failure” to comply with federal voter registration... Read More

18 Ohio Voters Could Face Charges for Casting Multiple Ballots in 2018 State News
18 Ohio Voters Could Face Charges for Casting Multiple Ballots in 2018
December 12, 2019
by Dan McCue

Ohio's Secretary of State on Wednesday referred the names of 18 voters to prosecutors for allegedly casting multiple votes in the 2018 mid-term election. Secretary Frank LaRose said the voters were identified through the Electronic Registration Information Center, a coalition of states sharing data in order... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top