Eco-friendly safe ride service planned in Kalamazoo

Jun 7, 2013

A Nissan Leaf, one of the vehicles being considered for "Project Green Drive" in Kalamazoo
Credit Green Earth Michigan

A small fleet of environment-friendly cars could be getting people in Kalamazoo who’ve had too much to drink home safely beginning in the spring of 2014. At least that’s the hope of a local organization called Green Earth Michigan. CEO Dan Doehrman says the new effort is called “Project Green Drive".

Green Earth Michigan is raising money to buy several all-electric cars for its planned designated driving service. Doehrman says several makes and models are being considered, ranging from the Ford Focus EV and the Nissan Leaf to the Tesla Model S. He says the number bought for the program will depend on the cost of the vehicle that is chosen. Ultimately, Doehrman says he hopes driverless “autonomous” cars like those being developed by Google will be used for the service.

Doehrman says Project Green Drive promotes sustainable energy while dealing with a serious safety issue: drunk driving. He says more than 90 people have died in Kalamazoo County in alcohol-related crashes over the last decade. There were over 3,700 non-fatal accidents during that time caused by inebriated drivers.

Project Green Drive could get rolling in March 2014, if enough money can be raised. Doehrman says the free service would be offered on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, but only within Kalamazoo County. There’s already a designated driver program in the area called Drive Safe Kalamazoo but Doehrman says it is aimed primarily at college students.