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Articles » Society » Has the Designated Driver Program Been Effective

Has the Designated Driver Program Been Effective

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By StraightDUI Staff on 10/16/2007

Did you know that drunk driving is the number one committed violent crime in American today? More importantly, nearly 17,000 Americans are killed and more than 500,000 are injured each year in alcohol-related traffic crashes. Additionally, drunk driving costs Americans more than $50 billion each year in economic losses. Each year, police arrest over 1.5 million drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and on an average day, 46 people die in alcohol-related traffic crashes, accounting for nearly 40% of traffic deaths. Since 1999 America has experienced a 5% increase in alcohol related vehicular fatalities. To alleviate the problem, Designated Driver Programs have become very popular.

How Designated Driver Programs Began

As a means of resolving drunk driving, the Designated Driver Program was started at the Jay Winsten’s Harvard Center for Health Communication. The program was found through an activity discovered in Scandinavia where one person in a group would refrain from drinking in order to drive. The project was a genuine breakthrough for public health and marked the first time that a health institution joined forces in a project of such magnitude.

Does the Designated Driver Program Work?

The term “Designated Driver” became a household phrase in the U.S to such a huge extent that the term appeared in the 1991 Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. In fact, public opinion polls have widely accepted the designated driver concept. According to the Roper Poll, a large archive of public opinion data, the proportion of Americans serving as designated drivers reached 37% in 1991 and among Americans under the age of 30, 52% had actually been designated drivers. The Wirthlin Group, specializing in polls reported that nearly 9 out of 10 respondents in the country gave it a favorable rating of 81 on a 100-point scale. The Designated Driver Program actually rated higher than all other programs or industries rated.

The Definition of Designated Driver Program

The simplest way to define what the “Designated Driver Program” entails is an individual within a group of people drinking alcoholic beverages at some type of event or establishment who pledges to remain sober and then drive the group home after the event. In support of the program, some establishments offer free non-alcoholic drinks to the designated driver. Some colleges and even high school organizations offer to give free rides home on weekend nights to fellow students that have been drinking. When the program first began, Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) opposed the concept primarily because it enabled people to continue drinking, but it now supports designated driving.

Numerous Businesses Involved in Designated Driver Programs

Today, there are numerous businesses across the US involved in designated driving programs. Some transport drivers using one of three methods: car, collapsible scooter or foldable bikes. NightRiders, Inc. was the first U.S. designated driver for hire, using collapsible, motorized scooters. Drivers would drive customer’s home in their own vehicles, stowing scooters in the customer’s trunk. Upon arrival of the customer’s destination, the driver collected the fare, assembled the scooter and rode off to the next customer. Another successful designated driver company was founded in 1998 and is based in Las Vegas, NV. The company uses two person teams where one person drives the impaired individual in their own vehicle and another person follows. And a company in Washington, DC uses foldable bikes for the last mile of transportation to and from public transportation.

The Benefits of a Designated Driver Program

Combined with highly visible law enforcement, a Designated Driver program gives people the information they need to make informed choices thereby seeking alternatives to driving while impaired. Designated Drivers are effective because many of the risks related to impaired driving are removed. In fact, nine out of 10 Americans who participate in social events where alcohol is available believe that people should use Designated Driving programs.

Requirements as a Designated Driver

As an anti-DUI effort, the Designated Driver Program works well because it encourages individuals to abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages during an outing so that he or she can be responsible for transporting other members of the group safely. To become a designated driver an individual must meet the following criterion

  • The Designated Driver should be at least 21 years of age and must possess a valid drivers license.
  • They must be part of a group of two or more persons and verbally identify themselves as the designated driver to the server.
  • They must abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages for the duration of the outing.
  • They must not be an otherwise impaired driver.
  • They must understand that management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime.

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