In an effort to promote the use of safe and sober designated drivers this summer, the HERO campaign’s Jersey Shore program is asking bars to join the cause. More than 150 bars have already signed up for the Jersey Shore HEROES Program, and hundreds more are expected.
“Bars and taverns are signing up left and right,” explained Bill Elliott, chairman of the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. “It just makes sense, and it also puts them on the good guy list.”
Participating locations along the shore can be recognized by a HERO Campaign sticker on the door or other promotional materials inside. Some bars use HERO wristbands to differentiate between the drinkers and designated drivers.
However, the program’s unique characteristic is the way it rewards patrons who can offer a safe ride home to friends and loved ones. Participating bars offer free soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages to customers who identify themselves as designated drivers.
“It’s a great way to change behavior and remind people that if you’re a designated driver, you are a hero,” Elliott said.
Elliott created the HERO Campaign in 2000, months after his son was killed by a drunken driver. John Elliott, an Egg Harbor Township native and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was struck while on his way home to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Elliott said he wants to make sure other families don’t experience a similar tragedy, and the Campaign serves as a tribute to John.
Listen to Mr. Elliott discuss the death of his son and the reason for the campaign:
Elliott said the special Jersey Shore initiative can also offer the region an upgraded image from the one created by reality television.
He continued, “We really want to promote a positive image of the Jersey Shore as a great place to visit, a great place to have a good time, and also have a safe ride home.”
Elliott noted there are about 1,500 bars between Sandy Hook and Cape May, and the Campaign hopes 300-400 join this summer.
The Jersey-born campaign has spread to several states over the years, promoting designated drivers through bars, package good stores, law enforcement, government and other measures.