Prepaid cab debit card could prevent drunk driving in colleges

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Jason Willoughby lost a friend in college to drunk driving, and he is doing his part to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

Willoughby, a 2005 University of Central Florida graduate, has started a program called University Cab Cash to encourage students to take a cab instead of getting into a car with a drunk driver.

“It’s a great way for parents to get their kids a gift,” Willoughby said. “It’s good for four years and parents know their kids are safe.”

University Cab Cash partners with cab companies near universities throughout Florida, providing students a safe alternative from driving while intoxicated. Students or their parents can purchase a prepaid debit card which can be used with the cab company indicated on the card. Willoughby hopes that, by eliminating the hassle of making sure you have the money to pay for a cab, students can make safer decisions.

“A lot of parents will buy them to try them out and will be adding money to the cards because all the money has been used,” he said.

According to Florida traffic crash statistics, 21-year-old drinking drivers are involved in more crashes then any other demographic. Numbers from 2006 show that 776 21-year-olds were involved in drunk driving crashes, and 42 people lost their lives.

Sophomore Kristy Torres thinks the program is a good idea, and could become very popular among UM students. Torres said she would consider getting a card herself.

“This would be great, considering the fact that most people prefer to take a cab when they go to a party,” Torres said.

Some students, such as sophomore Jenny Cook, believe that having a convenient cab service that has already been paid for would prevent students from driving while intoxicated.

“I think people would much rather take a cab, and if your parents are paying that just makes it even easier,” she said.

University Cab Cash is now available at all Florida universities and some others in the southeast, such as Clemson and the University of Georgia. According to their Web site, University Cab Cash hopes to be available in all 50 states by 2009. Willoughby hopes the service can expand beyond college students and be used any time you would need a cab.

“It’s an easy way to isolate funds for a specific use,” he said. “We’d like to see the general population begin to use this.”

To learn more about University Cab Cash, visit www.universitycabcash.com or call 866-UCC-1136.

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