Designated Driver Programs (DDPs) and Ride Service Programs (RSPs) are community-based approaches to preventing impaired driving. Both approaches are described in this piece.
It is not sufficient to have an individual DDP at a local restaurant, or a few taxi cabs providing safe rides home on the weekend to reduce a community-wide problem such as alcohol-impaired driving.
These programs must pervade the community to have their impact on drinking and driving. Accordingly, these programs are described as a package of community-wide programs demanding the active cooperation of a healthy mix of community partners to succeed.
Designated Driver Programs
What is a Designated Driver? A designated driver is one person, in a group of two or more drinkers, who agrees not to drink alcoholic beverages, and to transport the members of the group home safely.
Server-based DDPs are set up in public or private establishments that serve alcohol, where the idea of using a designated driver is introduced by the server. DDPs may also be drinker-based.
Any people drinking in groups, at parties or sporting events, or a friend’s back yard, may decide that one member of the group will be a designated driver to get the other group members home safely.
Community-wide DDPs are designed by a centralized organization in a community, composed of a wide spectrum of partners, all of whom have something to gain by reducing alcohol-related crashes.
Who are the community partners that can help you set up a community-wide program?
Why is a community-wide program better?
In a community-wide program, the costs of developing and disseminating promotional materials can be spread across many sponsors, so that single organizations or groups do not have to carry that burden alone.
When messages encouraging designated drivers come from many sources, more people are exposed to the DDP concept, and more people may be likely to use designated drivers.
Community-wide DDPs splash the DDP concept throughout the community, rather than just introducing it piecemeal in isolated establishments.
Who should coordinate a community-wide designated driver program?
A single agency, such as the mayor’s office, the local police agency, the downtown business association, or a local ABC Board can coordinate the program. It could be any of the major community partners. Just make sure there’s no duplication of effort!
What must individual service establishments do to run a good program?
While community-wide coordination of programs is critical, running successful DDPs in restaurants and bars also requires attention to details. A successful DDP should do the following:
1) Monitor entrances to the establishment
Ride Service Programs
What is a community-wide RSP?
As an alternative to DDPs, community-wide RSPs provide safe rides home for individuals who are judged (by themselves or others) to be too alcohol impaired to drive themselves home.
Rides home might be provided in taxis, vans, or private vehicles.
Who are the community partners in RSPs?
The same array of potential partners that were cited in community-wide DDPs should also support RSPs.
Who should coordinate a community-wide RSP?
Again, as with the same question for DDPs, a single community agency is best, but it doesn’t really matter which one.
Who are the program targets and who is eligible for RSPs?
Targets would be drinkers who drive, organizations and establishments where they drink, social hosts, and specific groups at high risk for drinking and driving, such as young males and patrons of alcohol-serving establishments.
The criteria for eligibility to use the RSP should be relaxed, while still focusing on the person who is impaired, especially by alcohol, who probably would have driven after drinking.
How is the program publicized?
The community offering an RSP should publicize it through as wide a variety of media as possible (newspapers, radio, television, billboards, signs on public transportation, direct mail, and at establishments that serve alcohol) to reach the broadest audience.
The name and phone number of the program must be made available everywhere, in the public media and at the establishments where drinking is done.
For RSPs limited to holiday periods, a media “blitz” should start at least one week before the service begins and continue throughout the period.
For year-round programs, the publicity should occur periodically with less intensity than the holiday blitz, and with greater intensity during high-risk DWI holiday periods.
Are other prevention services available?
An RSP, in addition to safe rides, often provides other relevant prevention and intervention services, such as training alcohol-serving establishments about responsible service; providing corporate event risk-management; and offering non-intrusive written information to customers on BAC levels, signs of substance abuse, and phone numbers where they may receive information or help.
How are RSPs funded?
A model RSP, especially a year-round program, receives a relatively small proportion of funding from many different community sources (perhaps the same community partners who set up a DDP) to ensure consistent funding and reduce the risk that withdrawal or reduction of funding from one or two sources would create problems.
Maintaining a variety of sources increases the administrative workload of the program, but reduces dependence on larger donors. Funding resources can include cash, in-kind services (publicity), and equipment. Resources might be sought from such groups as:
The use of existing transportation systems, such as cab companies, to provide the vehicles, drivers, and call-in and dispatch services, appears successful in many cases and is likely to reach the largest number of potential users.
What should the program cost the user?
A model program would provide rides at no or minimal cost to the user, if the ride is provided within the rules of the services (for instance, within certain geographic boundaries, provisions of a voucher, or ride starting from a member establishment).
Does the program enable drinkers to drink more?
There is no evidence that these programs promote or encourage drinking. Think of it as a “friend” walking someone home who has had too much to drink. Getting someone home safely has nothing to do with condoning excessive drinking!
The original form of this document, available in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format, may be found on NHTSA’ s web site: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
The information on this page is from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
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