Press Releases

Lisa Arose
Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
(206) 744-9452

DATE: December 23, 2005

HIPRC To Develop and Evaluate Designated Driver and Safe Ride Home Programs

In October 2005, the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), in partnership with King County Public Health Violence and Injury Prevention division, received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to develop and evaluate a designated driver and safe ride home program for Seattle. The program targets the neighborhoods of Belltown, Fremont, Pioneer Square and the University District areas of the city where more impaired driving incidents involving 21-34 year olds originate.

What is a Designated Driver and Safe Ride Home program?

Designated Driver and Safe Ride Home programs work hand-in-hand to prevent impaired people from getting behind the wheel of a car. A Designated Driver program promotes and encourages adults to plan ahead when heading out to restaurants, clubs and bars to pick someone in the group who will drink non-alcoholic beverages and who will make sure everyone else gets home safely. But what happens if the group doesn't plan ahead? Or, what if the designated driver decides to drink a few cocktails anyway? Or, what if someone is not part of a group and has been at the bar a little too long? That's where the Safe Ride Home program steps in and provides the potentially impaired driver with a safe ride home.

Why does Seattle need a Designated Driver and Safe Ride Home program?

Alcohol-related automobile crashes comprise 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. Most drunk driving crashes are caused by young adults ages 21 to 34, and most of the drunken driving trips originate from a bar. This means that many young adults go out to party with their friends, have too much beer, wine or cocktails and then make the choice to drive home. This problem should be viewed as completely preventable.

How does the Designated Driver and Safe Ride Home program work?

The program is still in development. The program coordinators are currently conducting focus groups with individuals in the target market to determine the type of program that will meet their needs. The program will have two components an integrated marketing campaign to promote responsible choices and a safe ride home program. The marketing campaign relies heavily on our community partners local restaurants and bars, law enforcement, governmental agencies, community organizations, cab companies, and other businesses to help raise awareness and promote the program to young adults. The safe ride home program will most likely involve an impaired driver being given a taxi voucher for a free ride home. The other details of the program will be forthcoming.

What is our goal?

We seek to eliminate injuries and deaths due to drunk driving and to develop a program that can be a model for similar efforts across the country.

When will the program begin and how long will it last?

The program is scheduled to launch in Spring 2006. Right now we have funding for three years until fall 2008.

Does the program have a name?

Over the next few months we will be conducing focus group research to develop a program name, logo, and program messages. Stay tuned for more details.

How can I help?

•  If you are a restaurant, bar, or club owner in one of the four target neighborhoods (Belltown, Fremont, Pioneer Square and University District), sign on to be one of our partner establishments that supports designated drivers and participates in the safe ride home program.

•  Donate to the campaign. The program has to raise over $100,000 each year to support the marketing campaign and the cost of the safe ride home program operations. If you wish, you can designate the funds you donate to be used for a specific purpose.

•  Give us your ideas and opinions. We welcome comments, suggestions, or program ideas.

•  Once the program launches in the spring, we will need the support of the entire Seattle community to make the program a success from local businesses to law enforcement to individual citizens.

How can I get more information about the program?

Contact Lisa Arose, Project Coordinator
Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center
206.744.9452 phone
206.744.9962 fax
Mailing Address:
325 Ninth Ave.
Box 359960
Seattle, WA 98104