More people using designated drivers, survey shows
A recent Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) survey found more people are using a designated driver.
Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated they used a designated driver in the past 12 months, a jump of nearly 10 percent from 2013. In addition, 75 percent of respondents said they have been a designated driver in the past year.
"People are out there and public opinion is out there on drunk driving that it is dangerous, and people do not want to get involved in it," said Brandon English, MADD New Jersey program director.
Simply put, drunk driving has become a stigma.
"Thirty or 40 years ago, it was not as high on the priority list as it is now, which is great," English said.
A survey that was taken in 1989 showed only 35 percent of people reported being a designated driver.
The popularity of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft are helping to combat drunk driving, according to the survey. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they already associate the term designated driving with ridesharing, and 31 percent of those under the age of 30 reported using a rideshare service to get home after drinking.
In New Jersey, Evesham Township’s “Saving Lives” pilot program, which allows local residents to get free rides home from 19 bars and restaurants in town by using Uber, has been so successful that it’s being expanded to include neighboring Voorhees Township.
"I think that the biggest thing is that if you are going to go out and you are going to have alcohol at a party, especially around the holidays, through people using designated drivers, through ridesharing, we can cut that number down and there are no more victims. And that's really our ultimate goal," English said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 945 drunk driving deaths in the U.S. between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve in 2014.
MADD's online survey was conducted in conjunction with Nationwide, the national presenting sponsor of MADD's Tie One On For Safety campaign, which aims to raise public awareness about drunk driving.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.