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Festive help Nez Rouge safe-drive service starts

Handing over the keys: a festive reveller gets a life home via Nez Rouge

(Nez Rouge)

Volunteer drivers at the Nez Rouge (red nose) service, which takes tired or drunk festive revellers safely home, are poised to begin work this weekend.

They will be working throughout the festive period until New Year’s Day. With a few exceptions – Basel, Schaffhausen, Engadine and Upper Valais – the service is Swiss-wide.

In a few regions the scheme will start work next weekend.

The service is free. “Nez Rouge is a preventive campaign for drivers who can’t drive their own car home because they are tired, have been drinking, have taken drugs or don’t feel able to drive because of the weather,” Johannes Cutka, from the Zurich regional Nez Rougeexternal link, told

Nez Rouge teams travel in groups of three to the client, who has called a special hotline. The client is then accompanied home in their own car by two of the volunteers, the third follows behind in a Nez Rouge car to collect his or her colleagues.

In the Zurich region, they had 160-170 volunteers in 2015, driving 40,000km. The volunteers are from all walks of life and willingly give up their nights to Nez Rouge, Cutka said.

“If we can prevent just one extra accident, then it’s worth it,” he said of the motivation of the volunteers.

Canadian beginnings

Swiss-wide, 90,000 people used the service last year, Nez Rouge Switzerland said in a communique. It counts 8,000 volunteers. More than 356,000 people have been taken home since Nez Rouge started in 1990.

Nez Rouge Switzerlandexternal link told that the idea of a safe home driving service originated in Canada, in Quebec, where it is “still a real institution”.

In 1990, Dr Jean-Luc Baierlé, the Jura cantonal doctor, brought the scheme over to Switzerland. From there it spread across the French-speaking part of Switzerland and then to the German- and Italian-speaking parts.

There is a very small Nez Rouge service in France, the organisation added.

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