A designated driver
is a person who abstains from alcohol on a social occasion in order to drive his/her companions home safely. It is intended as a safe alternative to driving under the influence
. In order to encourage these arrangements, some proprietors will offer free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers.
The designated driver concept was developed in Scandinavia over several decades beginning in the 1920s.
The concept was imported to the United States on a large scale in 1988 through the Harvard Alcohol Project, an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Health Communication, led by Jay Winsten. With heavy involvement by television networks and Hollywood studios, the campaign popularized the concept through public service announcements, as well as the encouragement of drunk driving prevention messages and designated driver references in popular television programs such as "Cheers," "L.A. Law," and "The Cosby Show." President Bill Clinton participated in the designated driver campaign throughout his presidency, taping public service announcements each year at the request of the Harvard Alcohol Project. With the endorsement of a broad range of individuals and organizations, designated driving became a national movement, with "designated driver" becoming a common phrase. Based on several polls indicating an increase in designated driving practices since the start of the initiative, the campaign is credited as a contributing factor to the decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities between 1988 and 1994.
In 1995, Belgium launched the Bob campaign, a drunk driving prevention program centered around the designated driver approach. The Bob campaign has since been adapted by the Netherlands and Greece.
Various college and high school organizations, such as CARPOOL
at Texas A&M University
in College Station, Texas
and BUSY at Gulfport High School in Gulfport, Mississippi
at Colorado State University, offer to give free rides home on weekend
nights to fellow students. Doctors for Designated Driving
is the voice of the medical community in promoting designated driving. Designated Drivers Foundation, a Nevada non-profit group was formed in 2008 to create awareness about the perils of drinking and driving, educate the public about driving programs, and promote and fund sensible alternatives to drinking and driving. The HERO Campaign
is a non-profit that promotes designated driving through partnerships with bars, restaurants, stadiums and colleges in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Numerous businesses have sprouted up across the United States to help address the problem of drinking and driving. They transport their drivers using one of three methods car, collapsible scooter, or foldable bike. Designated Drivers, Inc, was founded in 1998 and is currently based out of Las Vegas, NV. This company uses two person teams: one person to drive the impaired individual in their own vehicle, and the other person as the follow driver. NightRiders, Incorporated
was the first one to use collapsible, motorized scooters in the US. The drivers drove customers home in their own vehicles, stowing the scooters in the customer's trunk. Upon arrival to the customer's destination, the driver collected the fare, assembled the scooter, and rode off to the next customer. This company is now out of business according to their website. Drivers Incorporated
, based in Washington DC, uses foldable bikes for the last mile of transportation to and from public transportation.
Noticing the need for Designated Driver programs to be established nation wide, A Designated Driver Launched in 2002 and now has locations in 16 states. They offer an affordable opportunity for people to start their own profitable designated driver service in their city or on college campuses nation wide.