Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Bar fairies help keep our roads safe

by Daily Inter Lake
| March 17, 2024 12:00 AM

Fifteen gift cards were sprinkled on vehicles left overnight at bars around Whitefish last weekend. The weekend prior, nine gift cards were secretly tucked onto vehicles left at drinking establishments in Kalispell, Lakeside and Somers.

These small tokens of appreciation are the work of the Montana Bar Fairies, a local group raising awareness about drunk driving in the Flathead Valley and incentivizing drivers to find a safe ride home — one $5 coffee card at a time. 

“It’s a way to honor the memories of the people we have lost, but ultimately our goal is to reduce fatalities due to drunk drivers in our area, and hopefully, eventually, in the state of Montana,” Carli Dewbre said in a February interview with the Daily Inter Lake. 

It was a year ago this month that Dewbre’s brother, Bobby, was struck and killed by a drunk driver while he crossed U.S. 2 at Columbia Falls to get to a sober ride home after a night celebrating his 21st birthday.

Since her brother’s tragic death, Dewbre has set out to encourage good decisions through positive reinforcement. Each card the fairies place includes a picture of a drunk driving victim, a note and a $5 coffee card.

It’s this kind of grassroots effort that can make a big difference in the community. Dewbre and all of the Montana Bar Fairies are making the valley’s highways safer, while also raising awareness about Montana’s unfortunate culture of intoxicated driving.

It’s shocking to note that in 2020, nearly 66% of all Montana traffic fatalities were the result of impaired driving. The state regularly boasts one of the highest DUI rates in the nation.

As Montana celebrates St. Patrick’s Day today, we encourage everyone taking part in Irish libations to plan ahead for a sober ride home. Designate a driver among your group of friends, arrange for someone to pick you up, call an Uber, plan to walk — anything other than getting behind the wheel buzzed or otherwise.

And be warned, Montana law enforcement agencies will increase their patrols and presence during St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t risk it. 

You never know — making the right choice to find a sober ride and leave your vehicle at the bar might just result in a friendly fairy visit.

To learn more about Montana Bar Fairies or to donate to this important effort, go online at montanabarfairies.org.