RTC Transit Services offers a SAFE FREE RIDE with RTC to RING IN the New Year to help reduce instances of DUI arrests. On New Year’s Eve, it’s free. 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Building Better Communities Through Quality Transportation Call 775-348 RIDE, or go to www.rtcwashoe.com.

Designated driver and designated driving (commonly known as DD) are terms that refer to a person who is sober while being the responsible driver of a vehicle. Others have been permitted to consume alcoholic beverages.

As an ethical & feasible matter, a designated driver is someone who refrains from drinking on an occasion to safely drive their friends home. Some bar and restaurant owners will offer discounted or free soft drinks to designated drivers to encourage them to make these arrangements.


Over several decades, the designated driver concept was developed by Scandinavians starting in the 1920s and ending in the 1980s with a formalized designated drivers program. Hiram Walker and Sons introduced the program in 1986 in Canada and named it “The Canadian Club Designated Driving Program”. The program was quickly accepted and supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the police as well as members of hospitality businesses and the public in general. Few, if any, were the detractors. Hiram Walker President Doug Young, and Marshall Fenn Limited, the PR agency of Marshall Fenn Limited, led by David Butler heavily promoted the program. In 1986, the concept was popularized in the United States, in Canada, and other in countries as well.

The Harvard Alcohol Project, a Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication initiative, brought the concept to the United States in large numbers in 1988. The campaign was heavily supported by Hollywood studios and television networks. It promoted the idea through public service announcements and encouraged drunk driving prevention messages. U.S. Department of Transportation used commercials in public affairs with the message “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” Bus lines, such as RTC offer FREE RIDE with RTC.

President Bill Clinton was a participant in the designated driver campaign during his presidency. He taped public service announcements every year, at the request of the Harvard Alcohol Project. Designated driving was made a national movement by a wide range of people and organizations. The term “designated driver” became a household name. The campaign was credited with contributing to the decline of alcohol-related traffic deaths between 1988 and 1994, based on multiple polls.

Diageo, a spirits company, has been using a similar strategy in Brazil since 2005 to discourage drunk driving. McLaren sponsored Piloto da Vez, which was named after the campaign. The campaign was also supported by McLaren. Lewis Hamilton, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Mika Hakkinen all participated.


Although designated drivers are prevalent, many groups fail to properly use them. Many groups fail to properly designate their driver before making travel arrangements. They arrive in separate vehicles. Even if a group shares a vehicle it does not mean that the designated driver is always sober. Another problem is the failure to enforce driver abstinence and limit consumption. A study at the Tijuana/San Diego border showed that drivers returned to the bar with significantly lower BACs than the control group after being asked by groups of people who were drinking to point out their designated driver.

Advocacy groups

Numerous high school and college organizations such as RamRide in Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, CARPOOL in Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas or Drive Safe Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University, and BUSY in Gulfport High School, Gulfport, Mississippi, offer free rides home to students on weekends.

United States Businesses

Many businesses have sprung up in the United States to address the issue of drunk driving. Many companies transport their drivers as passengers using one of three ways: car, collapsible bike, or folding bicycle. These programs are not designed to be designated drivers. They are Safe Ride programs and include the FREE RIDE with RTC program. The sober driver is not a member of the natural drinking group. Designated Drivers, Inc was established in 1998. It is now based in Las Vegas, NV. The company used two-person teams. One person drove the person with impairment in their vehicle and the other was the following driver. The two-person team approach has been a hallmark of Pittsburgh’s Pear Transport Company, also known as The Pear Cares. Dryver, previously known as BeMyDD was founded to offer designated driver services, car pick-ups for impaired drivers, and personal drivers for evenings out. NightRiders Inc. were the first to use motorized scooters that are collapsible. Drivers drove customers home in their own cars, while the scooter was stowed in the customer’s truck or trunk. The driver drove the customer to their destination and parked the vehicle. After collecting the fare, the driver assembled the scooter in the vehicle before riding off to the next customer. According to their website, this company has gone out of business. Since 2005, Zingo Transportation has provided this service in the southern US.