A sober ride program is expanding their services in Duluth to include events at Bayfront Festival Park, including the 2021 Duluth Oktoberfestival, scheduled for September 17-19.

Joyride, which is funded by the American Automobile Association of Minnesota/Iowa as well as by state grants and participating local businesses, is operated by Essentia Health and the Driving 4 Safe Communities coalition. It was initially launched in 2014 with the goal of providing an inexpensive and sober ride home from a place or business that serves alcohol.

The program gets participating businesses to provide vouchers that offer $5 to $10 off a Lyft or a taxi from participating cab companies. By expanding to include events at Bayfront Festival Park, such as Duluth Oktoberfestival, it will hopefully make it easier for people to make smart transportation decisions.

“Helping people get home safely after enjoying an evening out is the essence of hospitality,” said Lucie Amundsen, director of communications for the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. “Maybe it takes being handed a coupon and knowing that it will be an easy experience to get a ride that makes someone reconsider driving. We’re grateful for all the work that went into creating these partnerships that ultimately will make our roads safer for everyone.”

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The statistics related to the success of this program, which is offered in several areas of Minnesota, are impressive. In some cases, there has been a 60% reduction of DUI-related deaths in areas in which it’s offered.

You can follow the button below to see a list Northland businesses already participating in the Joyride program.

The more businesses that get involved and the more people who utilize the program, the better off we'll all be. Essentia Health notes that according to state data for the year of 2021, through July 66 people have died in alcohol-related crashes in Minnesota.

In all of 2020, 121 people died in alcohol-related crashes, an increase from 89 in 2019. In St. Louis and Carlton counties, there has been nearly 6,000 recorded DWI incidents dating back to 2016.

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