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Designated Drivers Don't Work

Some of the things we assume work well, really don't. For instance, cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke does not improve your health. And while beer ads on TV always push having a designated driver, who agrees not to drink alcohol so he can chauffeur everyone home, this does not prevent drunk driving because, according to researcher Randy Elder, "?the designated driver may be chosen based on who among the group is the least intoxicated," rather than on who has abstained from drinking at all.

Elder says, "When an intended designated driver becomes intoxicated, this leaves group members with a difficult choice between having the least drunk person drive them home or arranging for alternative transportation." After an Australian designated-driver media campaign, 13% more people said they would always use a designated driver. However, there was NO change in the percentage of people who said they drove drunk or rode with someone who had been drinking.

Other research has studied programs at bars that offer free food and other incentives to designated drivers, but the giveaways produced only one more designated driver a night, on average, and the increase disappeared as soon as the offers were discontinued.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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