HERO Campaign is Effective in Promoting Sober Designated Drivers, Stockton survey shows

The John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers has been significantly effective in getting people to use designated drivers as an alternative to drunk driving, a new Stockton University Polling Institute survey shows.

Results of the survey of more than 800 residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties showed that 65 percent said they were aware of the campaign, and that more than 80 percent of those believed the campaign has been effective in getting people to become, or to use, sober designated drivers.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they had served as designated drivers in the past 12 months, and 40 percent of them credited the HERO Campaign with influencing their decisions. Twenty percent, or one in five, have accepted a ride from a designated driver in the past 12 months, and 38 percent of them credited the HERO campaign with influencing their behavior.

The survey was conducted by the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy for the HERO Campaign. Interviewers on the Stockton University campus called both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 13-19, 2015. The HERO Campaign is headquartered at Stockton.

“The results of this survey confirm what we already believe, that designated drivers are the cure for drunk driving,” said Bill Elliott of Egg Harbor Township, chairman and founder of the campaign, which he and his wife Muriel established as a living legacy for their son John. John Elliott was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver two months after graduating in May 2000 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“If one less mother or father does not have to fear the knock on the door late at night to hear that their child has been killed by a drunk driver, then the HERO Campaign is making progress,” Bill Elliott said.

Other key findings of the survey include:

– 95 percent of respondents consider drunken driving a significant or very significant threat to public safety.

– 78 percent think a person who is serving as a designated driver should not drink at all.

– 82 percent of people familiar with the HERO Campaign say it has been effective in promoting the use of sober designated drivers to reduce drunken driving.

Survey respondents – also 78 percent – said that highway billboards made them aware of the HERO Campaign, which is marking its 15th anniversary year with a program to register 100,000 designated drivers. Sixty percent became familiar with the HERO Campaign through bumper stickers or window decals.

Respondents also credited special events, friends and relatives, and school or college programs with making them aware of the HERO Campaign, which is active in seven states from Massachusetts to Kentucky.

The number of DUI fatalities in New Jersey declined more than 18 percent during the period of 2002-2012 (latest available), according to National Highway Traffic safety Administration figures. The HERO Campaign has contributed to those declines through its aggressive efforts to promote designated driving, according to Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the N.J. Office of Highway Traffic Safety.

“It is no surprise to us that the HERO Campaign is effective in reminding people of the importance of having designated drivers, and that being a hero can be as simple as giving someone a ride home after they have been drinking alcoholic beverages,” said Poedubicky.

Poedubicky’s office supports the HERO Campaign’s educational programs throughout the state’s high schools and colleges, and at almost 100 participating bars and taverns that display HERO Campaign posters and serve free soft drinks to designated drivers.

Elliott said one of the campaign’s goals is to make the use of designated drivers as automatic as wearing seat belts.

In addition to schools, colleges, bars and taverns, the HERO Campaign also partners with professional sports teams including the Phillies, New York Football Giants, and the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, which registered an NFL-record 27,000 designated drivers at Gillette Stadium this past season.

The complete poll results can be reviewed when you Click Here.

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