A designated driver (DD) is defined as the person in a group who will not drink alcohol in order to drive group members home safely. To meet the strict definition of a designated driver three conditions must be met.
When properly implemented designated driver programs are highly effective, cost nothing, and are easy to understand. The DD is respected and treated as an important member of the group. DDs are included in group activities and not stigmatized for remaining sober.
Nearly two out of three American adults (137 million people) have been a designated driver or have been driven home by one, according to a 2008 survey conducted by TNS Custom Research on behalf of Anheuser-Busch. Designated Drivers have saved thousands of lives and spared many more people from injury. Over nine out of 10 Americans who attend social events where alcohol is served would like to see designated drivers used.
Research from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, shows that heavy drinkers and problem drinkers use the designated driver program most, thus reducing the number of dangerous drivers on the road.
Despite the positive impact that DD programs have had, one survey found that only 50 percent of survey respondents who approved of DD programs actually followed through and appointed one. And nearly 20 percent admitted that they never use a designated driver. The same survey found that more than 20 percent of those acting as designated drivers will likely have more than one alcoholic drink during the course of the evening.
At the same time, a common criticism of Designated Driver programs is that they encourage binge drinking among companions of the designated driver (DD). The perception is that the companions of the DD have a license to "drink until drunk."
In practice the Designated Driver concept often breaks down. Too often the DD is not selected before the group sets out to drink. The choice becomes an after-thought by the inebriated group. Frequently, the decision is based on the group member who is perceived to be the least drunk. The dangers of this approach are very real.
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