Belfast Telegraph

Are you the designated driver over Christmas? Then the drinks are on Coca-Cola!

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Do you forfeit the fizz during part of the festive season to ensure loved ones are taken from A to B safely?

Are you the official *Designated Driver of the family every December? If so, Coca-Cola wants to reward you…

Now in its 12th year Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign champions the safety of festive revellers by rewarding those who give the gift of a lift.

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If you hit the pub, restaurant or club but abstain from drinking to make sure you and your pals get home safely Coca-Cola, has paired up with a host of venues to give you two free drinks.

Whether your tipple’s a classic Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Deep RiverRock or Appletiser, it’s on the house when you opt to drive instead of drink.

Supported by the PSNI, Hospitality Ulster and the NI Hotel Federation as well as An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in the Republic of ireland, the scheme has seen 1.3m bottles of the fizzy stuff dished out over the years with 97,000 of those drinks donated to the trade last year alone - representing a spend of approximately €7m from Coca-Cola, across the whole of Ireland.

The importance of abstaining while driving can never be stressed enough. The PSNI plans to breathalyse 16,000 drivers this Christmas and last year it revealed that 350 motorists were arrested on suspicion of drink driving during the winter period. The penalty if you or a loved one are caught driving under the influence, is loss of a license for one or more years, a fine, and difficulties obtaining affordable car insurance. Some may even lose their job or face a custodial sentence.

Of the 65 fatal collisions in Northern Ireland in 2016, almost a quarter were attributed to drink or drugs. And since 2012, 17.5% of deaths from fatal collisions can be attributed to drink or drugs.

Representing the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Inspector Rosie Leech said, "We are delighted to support this very worthwhile campaign again this year. When we launched the police winter drink drive operation on Friday, we appealed to people going out to enjoy the festivities to put as much effort into planning how to get home safely, as they do planning their night out. Book a taxi, take a bus or have a designated driver who can avail of this excellent initiative, but Never, EVER drink and drive. I do not want officers knocking on doors at any time of the year, but especially over Christmas and the New Year, to tell a family that a loved one has been killed or seriously injured because someone decided to drive after drinking.”

Lynda Hurley, Head of Safe and Sustainable Travel Promotion and Outreach in the Department for Infrastructure also said, “In 2017, there were 8 deaths and 76 seriously injured casualties where drink or drug related driving/riding was the principal cause of the collision.  This means that last year alone, alcohol and/or drugs related driving accounted for 13% of all deaths. “There is no excuse for driving after consuming alcohol. The bottom line is that any alcohol, even just one drink, will impair your driving ability. 

So what’s the deal, how do you abstain, gift and receive? Designated Drivers should visit www.designateddriver.ie and check if the venue they’re heading to is on the list. If it is, simply download a voucher and present at the participating outlet.

And for those who want to give loved ones a guarantee that they have their back, the site also allows you to download ‘Gift of a Lift’ vouchers. These vouchers promise the recipient that you will not drink to drive them to and from a celebratory event.

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Rebecca McKinney, Cool FM DJ and Designated Driver Ambassador
Cool FM’s Rebecca McKinney is one of a number of online influencers lending her support for the 2018 campaign. They’ll be plugging the benefits of staying sober and singing the praises of those unsung heroes who keep our roads safe this and every year. They will also take their turn as a Designated Driver for a night over the festive period and encourage their friends and loved ones to do the same.

Ciara Cashen, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola HBC said: “Our business takes immense pride in supporting road safety throughout the Christmas season. We are delighted to continue our support for designated drivers by providing free soft drinks from our range to those who go the extra mile to ensure their loved ones get home safely.”

If you plan on being a designated driver throughout December claim your voucher at www.designateddriver.ie

(*A Designated Driver is defined as someone who drives friends and family home from a night out socialising, while abstaining from alcohol for the evening.)

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