by Claire Cella
In recent years, the allure of Austin has become increasingly strong—the city is now well known for its vibrant downtown, tight-knit food and beverage community and active festival scene. Yet, while experiencing all that Austin has to offer is no doubt stimulating, there are also some serious drawbacks to this city’s rising energy. One of the most concerning is the high rate of associated drunk-driving incidents, which are directly linked to the increase in travel to, from and within Austin. For years, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has tried to draw attention to our city’s—and even our state’s—drunk-driving issues. But, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s statistics, Texas has continually led the nation in the number of alcohol-related driving fatalities.
Fortunately, Acevedo is not alone in petitioning Austin residents to act consciously and cautiously when enjoying this city. RideScout, a fledgling but flourishing mobile technology company headquartered in Austin, has been making Austin a safer place with its free app that helps users locate convenient, quick, reliable rides within the city by culling together the many options available, such as Capitol Metro, taxi, car rental services, car2go and Zipcar, pedicabs, ride-sharing companies like Carma, and even bicycle rentals and routes. These options not only make for safer travels; they also help save time, gas and the environment.
RideScout founders Joseph Kopser and Craig Cummings are both proud army veterans and graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and they’ve always felt it a priority to actively support and honor the military in any way possible. In that spirit, they’ve recently launched RideSafe—a new satellite program of RideScout that’s a concentrated effort to help protect members of our military (a demographic that’s unfortunately at high risk for drunk-driving-related accidents).
Through a partnership with Brown Distributing Co.—Central Texas’ largest beer distributor—RideSafe offers complimentary trips to Austin on Fridays to personnel stationed at Fort Hood. Without the need to get behind the wheel, the personnel who frequent Austin on their time off have the chance to savor all of the city’s offerings with all the rewards and none of the risks. Currently, the program is starting small, with a single bus of 50 soldiers. The first official outing was to the Austin Rodeo this past March, and according to RideScout’s Director of Growth Matthew Nutting, it was a huge success. The next trip will take personnel to Dell Diamond in July. (All of the tickets to the game are courtesy of Dell Diamond.) In the future, RideScout hopes to partner with local food businesses to offer brown bags of edible treats—like tacos—for the ride home to Fort Hood.
“We wanted to give back to our troops and thank them for their service,” says Kopser. “The RideSafe program rewards our soldiers with time off to enjoy themselves, have some fun and then get a safe ride home at the end of the night.”