It’s that time of year: Time to deck the halls, socialize, eat, drink and be merry, which also means figuring out how to get home safely. Since, for many, holiday fun includes adult beverages, like eggnog, cocktails and hot toddies for many, designated drivers are in high demand.
All over the world, law enforcement agencies, community groups, volunteers and corporations are gearing up to make the holidays safer. In the U.S., where a person is injured in a drunk driving crash almost every 90 seconds, a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration public service announcement aimed at young men, who have the highest rate of drunk driving, uses ”invisible cops” to drive home the very important message: The police will see you before you see them.
Anti-Drunk-Driving Initiatives Around the Globe
In the United States, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has played a crucial role in aiding the fight against drunk driving. Since the organization was founded in 1980, the number of drunk driving deaths in the U.S. has been cut in half. This year MADD is celebrating the twenty-sixth anniversary of its annual Tie One On for Safety campaign, which encourages people to tie a red ribbon on their cars or attach a red ribbon magnet or window decal to their vehicle as a reminder to drive sober during the holidays.
In Toronto, Canada, the number of drunk driving offenses during the holiday season more than doubled between 2010 and 2011. In fact, Toronto police impounded more than 200 vehicles during last year’s 37-day Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) holiday campaign. This year Toronto police are collaborating with MADD and members of Parliament during this year’s RIDE campaign, which will feature a mock collision to stress the dangers of impaired driving.
France, which has strict drunk driving laws, recently implemented mandatory disposable breathalyzers for every driver in the country, including visitors, hoping that the law would make people think twice before drinking and driving.
Ireland Declares War on Drunk Driving
Another country declaring war against drunk driving is Ireland. And this is where
As part of its corporate social initiative, the world’s largest beverage giant launched this year's annual Designated Driver campaign in Ireland on Nov. 26 to combat drunk driving (or “drink driving” as it is known there) in partnership with
An Garda Siochana (Ireland’s national police),
Drinkaware.ie (a nonprofit organization with the aim of preventing underage drinking and drinking and driving) and the
Road Safety Authority. As part of the initiative,
Coca-Cola: Helping to Make Ireland’s Roads Safe
“We want to reduce the risk of drink driving and promote safety during the festive season, when pubs are busier than ever with people celebrating Christmas with a night out on the town,” says Mo Durkan, a spokesperson for
Ireland, a country that has zero tolerance for drunk driving, used to have a far worse drunk driving problem. However, the enforcement of stricter drunk driving laws, combined with frequent breath tests, seem to be having an effect. The number of drunk driving cases has dropped from more than 15,116, in 2009, to 8,032 between January and October of this year.
In addition to stricter laws in Ireland, efforts such as
“We have supported this campaign since it started, and we believe it is an important initiative in helping to encourage all road users to take responsibility and always put safety first,” says Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips, head of Ireland's Garda National Traffic Bureau. “Our priority is keeping the roads as safe as possible, and by designating a driver, you are doing your bit to making sure everyone gets home safely on their night out.”
Getting the Message to Young Male Drivers
Coke's campaign is open to everyone, but the target audience is young Irish males, ages 18 to 24 — the population most likely to drink and drive, according to Durkan.
“We want to make sure that they won’t be taking any more risks,” Durkan says.
Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of drinkaware.ie, encouraged revelers to download the site’s Christmas Survival Guide for tips on enjoying the holiday party season safely. From hangover advice to what to do “on the morning after the night before,” this site is packed with all kinds of fun stuff, including free concerts, movies and iPad giveaways from Coke. One piece of advice in the guide: “Even if you feel OK to drive the following day, you may still be over the legal limit and could get a €5,000 fine or a 6-month sentence — or you could be liable to both. Your body gets rid of roughly one standard drink — that’s half a pint or a glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits — per hour."
This year the campaign website, which can also be found through cokezone.ie, allows designated drivers to download the free nonalcoholic drink vouchers before visiting the venues. They can also download an app on their mobile phones to locate the nearest participating outlets.
The company also launched its fifth annual
Designated Driver campaign in Great Britain on December 9, as part of