A local bar owner is the first recipient of a prestigious Mothers Against Drunk Driving award.
Loren Davis, owner of Cambridge Bar & Grill, was recently presented MADD’s Greater Minnesota Public Safety Representative Award.
Davis serves as chairman of the Isanti County Safe Cab program, which was launched in December 2005.
“Loren, as a responsible bar owner in the community, was one of the driving forces in establishing the Isanti County Liquor Provider Partnership in 2004,” said Judge James Dehn, who nominated Davis for the award. “The liquor partnership, in cooperation with the Isanti Toward Zero Death (TZD) program, initiated and continues to bring liquor server training to all the liquor establishments in the area.”
Davis said it takes an entire team to make the Safe Cab program work.
“I’m very excited to have received the award,” Davis said. “Safe Cab is a great program, and I’d like to see more bars than just Isanti County utilize it. But it’s not just me; it’s a team of staff and partnerships that make it work.”
The Isanti County Safe Cab program offers rides home to patrons of participating bars and restaurants after an evening of drinking by calling 763-552-TAXI (8294). The service is free to the patron for rides up to $15; for rides exceeding that amount, the patron is responsible for the difference.
Drivers return at a later time, presumably sober, to retrieve vehicles left in the parking lots of participating establishments. The program does not provide rides to or between bars. Safe Cab services are provided by Cambridge Cab and are available Thursday through Saturday nights and on special occasions from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
As chairman of Safe Cab, Davis handles all Safe Cab accounts for Isanti, Pine, and Kanabec counties; keeping in touch with all participant bars and cab services for those counties.
Judge Dehn noted Davis has also played a critical role in working with the city of Cambridge to address winter parking issues related to Safe Cab rides.
“Loren’s behind the scenes advocacy at the local level facilitated donations to support the Safe Cab rides through local service clubs and the Isanti County Board,” Judge Dehn said. “By showing the tremendous cost savings to Isanti County, by reducing its DUI’s, Loren was able to secure funding from the county to continue the Safe Cab program.”
Judge Dehn noted the participating bars using Safe Cab have seen their DUI’s, “last place of drink,” drop by 65 percent, as the Safe Cab program has given over 3,000 rides to over 5,000 people.
“These impressive results have placed the Isanti County Safe Cab program on the forefront as a model program around the state and nation to reduce DUI’s and save lives in rural America,” Judge Dehn said.
Judge Dehn said as a result of the success of Isanti County Safe Cab, Wright, Ottertail, Pine, Kanabec and Chisago counties have started its own Safe Cab programs. And Sherburne County is also close to launching its own program.
“Really, what we’ve done as an entity, is reduce the number of lost lives on the road,” Judge Dehn said. “We will never know the number of lives that have been saved by reducing DWI’s by 65 percent.”
Davis said all the bars in downtown Cambridge, including Sidelines and the American Legion, do a good job of promoting the Safe Cab program.
“The Isanti County Safe Cab program has really become part of the culture here,” said Bob Bollenbeck, of the East Central Regional Development Commission. “Congratulations to Loren and his achievements, and also thanks to Pete Brown, who provides the good service with the rides.”
Davis also mentioned the cost-savings involved by reducing the number of DWI’s, such as costs with booking, processing, court administration, judges and other court and jail administrative costs.
Davis also gives credit to McDonald’s Distributing, based out of Rush City, for being a major supporter of the program. He said it pays for one-third of all the rides, and provides posters and signage for display in participating bars.
Isanti County Safe Cab is a 501C3 non-profit organization, and can always use more donations and funding to keep the program successful. If interested in making a donation, checks can be made to MN Safe Ride, and mailed to P.O. Box 167, Cambridge, MN 55008.
For more information on Safe Cab visit http://www.minnesotatzd.org/network/state/saferide/examples/isanti.html.