A couple of months ago I attended a family member’s 60th birthday party. There was tons of great food, good company and an open bar. One of my boyfriend’s nephews (who’s in his early twenties) was enjoying the open bar a little too much, so we offered to be his designated driver and drive him home. He left his car at the house and we headed out.
Very early into the ride we realized how much he’d enjoyed the open bar and were thankful we’d decided to offer him a ride home. It was out of the way and in the middle of nowhere, but we dropped him off and watched him make it safely inside his house. I don’t like to think what would have happened if we hadn’t. He was not only a risk to himself, but to others on the road, and that night everyone made it safely home.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,839 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2009 in the U.S. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for 32% of all traffic deaths last year, which means that on average someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired driving crash about every 50 minutes in the U.S. (Source: NHTSA/FARS, 2010).
In 1983, the Ad Council and the NHTSA (under the U.S. Department of Transportation) partnered to launch the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign. Using popular media such as television networks and Hollywood studios the campaign popularized the designated driver concept through public service announcements. Celebrities, athletes, musicians, and even politicians became part of the campaign.
The slogan “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” became the key phrase of the campaign. 62% of Americans exposed to the iconic “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign have personally intervened to stop someone from driving drunk, which, no doubt, has saved countless lives. Also, 68% of Americans say they have personally stopped someone who had been drinking from driving.
If you don’t have a designated driver you can always call a taxi. There are also many cities that have designated driving services. You can call and have them drive you home in your car so you don’t have to worry about going and picking up your car the next day. Festivals and other special events sometimes offer shuttle services between the venue and the visitors’ hotels. Many larger hotels also offer shuttle services to their guests to get around town instead of depending on or finding a designated driver.
If you plan to drink, then think! Do you have a designated driver or some other plan to get home safely? Thinking ahead can save not only your life, but also your loved ones and the lives of others on the road.