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A safer ride home

Designated Driver effort turns 21

December 16, 2009
Although the traditional destination for a 21st birthday celebration is a bar or nightclub to tie one on, one national program that turns 21 this year is doing just the opposite.

It was late 1988 when the Harvard School of Public Health joined forces with a number of television executives to slyly, but effectively, launch the designated driver campaign.

Over the four years that would follow, messages about designated drivers saving lives were strategically placed in the dialogue of more than 160 episodes of popular television shows including "The Cosby Show," "LA Law," and the Boston-based "Cheers."

"Cheers," actually led the pack in effectiveness with nine episodes featuring mention of designated drivers and a permanent addition to their barroom set of a poster promoting designated drivers, according to a Boston Globe report.

In the first four years of the program, during its major publicity push, drunk driving related fatalities decreased from nearly 24,000 nationally in 1988 to just more than 20,000 in 1991 according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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