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Business provides safe, cheap rides home

Kassie Brown, Staff writer
April 6, 2012

Almost every weekend, students get together with friends to party. There are multiple ways nights like these could end, and not all of them are good. In fact, most are inconvenient or have serious consequences.

The worst of the outcomes is drunk driving, which not only puts the driver and passengers at risk, but innocent people as well.

Now there is another option, known as Drivers On Call.

Drivers On Call is based in West Des Moines, owned and operated by Doug Podhajsky.

Drivers On Call is a designated driver service. Although there are other businesses like this, Drivers On Call has been in business for two years.

“I live out in Grimes and when I would have a few drinks with friends I had to stop early and drink water or risk the drive home from West Des Moines because a cab would be about $45, and I would need another cab the next morning,” Podhajsky explained. “I got laid off from a job for the winter and decided it was time to make it happen. I went to a class on how to start a business and put it together really quickly.”

When called, a driver will pick up the intoxicated person. Drivers will get the client’s address and text it to other drivers, so he or she can meet them at the desired location.

The first driver will then continue to drive the inebriated person home in his/her personal car. Once the customer is dropped off, and his/her car  is in the driveway, the two drivers continue to navigate the dark streets as they continue to drive for intoxicated clients.

Podhajsky thought of this idea five years ago and put it into action two years ago this spring.

Podhajsky will drive anywhere in the Des Moines area for a fee of $30, and surrounding areas such as Ankeny, Norwalk and Pleasant Hill for $40. Podhajsky said he has driven as far as Carlisle and Panora.

“I will go as far as someone is willing to pay me, too,” Podhajsky said.

Drivers On Call takes both cash and credit, and, as any business, tips are always welcome.

Podhajsky said his customers are mainly between the ages of 25-40. He said the older crowd tends to tip better and they go home earlier.

His main source of advertisement is Facebook, which has done a lot in getting word out about his business. His Facebook page has over 3,000 members and continues to grow.

Podhajsky said that he drives weekends and some holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve. On the holidays, he will have anywhere from four to five teams driving. On any given weekend, Podhajsky himself makes 10-12 drives.

Paige Kleckner, graphic design junior, was excited when she heard about Drivers On Call, although she has yet to use the service.

“Cab fare is expensive,” Kleckner said. “If you call a taxi to come pick you up and to take you home, that’s two trips. This way you’re paying for a one way ticket, essentially.”

Drivers On Call is much cheaper than what a person might pay for driving under the influence, especially if that person is a college student.

Christopher Solomon is a freelance writer from Seattle, who has written for The Seattle Times and The New York Times.

He wrote an online article for the personal finance section on the MSN website called “DUI: The $10,000 Ride Home.” According to the article, a typical DUI can cost around $10,000 by the time bail, fees, fines and insurance are paid. Podhajsky posted the article’s URL on his Facebook page so prospective customers can do their research.

“Any way you slice it, it’s a pricy mistake,” Solomon said, author of the articles about drunk driving.

According to collegedrinkingprevention.gov, one-third of students said they have driven while intoxicated or while under the influence of other drugs within the past year.

All of Drivers On Call information is posted on its Facebook page. If someone has any questions about the services offered or Podhajsky’s liability policy, Drivers On Call has its phone number listed on the Facebook page.

Drivers On Call has the potential to be a valuable resource not only to college students, but to everyone. Although he started this business, Drivers On Call, as a way to make money, he has the opportunity to help people. It was a business venture that went right.

“I’ve been driving for two years this spring,” Podhajsky said. “And just from Facebook, the name is really spreading.”

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