Designated drivers: wild passengers and pressure to drink drive – the truth

Designated drivers

It is possible to have fun at a party and stay sober to drive friends

Being the designated driver can be a thankless task. Now the facts about staying sober to drive friends who’ve had a few can be laid bare. Being pressured into drinking by friends who’ve entrusted you with their safety and having drunken passengers distracting you are just two of the pitfalls. Nonetheless, new research by Green Flag shows that more of us than ever before (26 per cent) are volunteering to be designated drivers.

Designated drivers: the benefits

There are plenty of advantages to staying sober and driving friends. For a start, you save money. Doing the driving as a reason to save money on taxis motivates 31 per cent of designated drivers. The majority reckon they’ll save around £50 over the course of two nights of driving. Nearly two thirds of designated drivers (61 per cent) say their passengers always offer to buy their soft drinks. The majority of passengers contribute towards parking and fuel costs. And in a study for Coca Cola, 27 per cent of drivers say the best bit is not having a hangover the next day.

Neil Wilson, head or rescue at Green Flag said: “Whether it’s due to the high price of taxis or a growing worry for friends’ and family members’ safety, those who choose to act as the designated driver are the true heroes this Christmas. With more traffic than usual and adverse weather conditions over the Christmas period, we are urging designated drivers to stay safe on the roads by carrying out the necessary car checks before getting behind the wheel.”

What designated drivers have to put up with

Although 85 per cent of us have volunteered to be the designated driver at some point, it’s not all plain sailing. Nearly a third of Brits (31 per cent) have been pressured to drink by friends when they’ve volunteered for driving duties. And that figure rises to more than half (54 per cent) when we’re talking about the 17 to 24-year old age group. Then there are the antics of drunken friends. The Green Flag research claims more than a third (36 per cent) of drivers have been distracted by their passengers.

But it’s not all bad…

Drink driving fatalities have been reduced by 85 per cent since the late 1970s. And much of it is thanks to the government’s ‘Think! Don’t Drink and drive’ campaign. Since 2008, it has been running a promotion with the support of Coca Cola. This enables designated drivers to get a free soft drink in pubs and venues around the country. Other pub and bar chains will also offer designated drivers free soft drinks. In Oxford, the local authority has even published a menu of non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’ for designated drivers to enjoy.

The rules…

As they’re the ones who stay sober, designated drivers frequently put rules in place. Passengers then have to abide by these. According to Green Flag’s research, 19 per cent will stipulate that they’re in charge of the music in the car. And 15 per cent say it’s up to them to choose what time their car leaves to come home. Twelve per cent claim they demand petrol money and a fee. Seven per cent even ask their friends to buy them dinner.

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