Belfast Telegraph

Gift of a Lift is a real treat for radio star

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COOL FM Breakfast show presenter Rebecca McKinney has notched up some brownie points with her parents and pals this Christmas as she offered up the Gift of Lift as part of Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver Campaign.

Rebecca is one of three high profile ambassadors on the island of Ireland working for the campaign and she's been celebrating the benefits of forfeiting alcohol to do her bit for road safety this winter.

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“I was able to drive my Mum and Dad into Belfast where we had a lovely meal and they had a glass of wine. For me that was total payback to my dad for all the lifts he’s given me over the years and it really was a treat for him to be a passenger for once,” said Rebecca.

Asked if she missed the opportunity to indulge in a glass herself, she said: “You know, I’m up so early in the morning for work that I’ve gotten used to not drinking on a night out. I’m also super conscious about driving the next day after having a drink so for me, this campaign is a treat.”

No stranger to promoting road safety, Rebecca and her co-host Paulo are advocates for the PSNI’s Safe Roadshow which sees the duo travel around high schools here to promote road safety to pupils of driving age. And one thing Rebecca has noted is a shift in the attitude towards drinking and driving, a movement she says is a “credit to young drivers”. 

“Years ago people might have thought about taking a risk and having one to join in with the festivities but today it’s different and that’s a tribute to young drivers here. There is so much more to lose than your license if you drink and drive. You could damage your reputation and risk losing your job or worst.”

In its 12th year here (and 14 years in the South) Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign sets out to champion the safety of festive revellers by rewarding those who give the gift of a lift.

It means if you opt out of drinking and offer your friends or family a lift to the restaurant, pub or club, Coca-Cola has paired up with a host of venues to give you a free drink.

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 drinking.

“And what’s not to love about a free soft drink?” adds Rebecca. “I’m a Coca-Cola girl at heart and it’s lovely to be made to feel special when you are doing the right thing.”

Coca-Cola’s campaign is 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.

To date the scheme has seen 1.3m bottles of water and soft drinks dished out with 97,000 of those drinks donated to the trade last year alone.

“It’s a great campaign that encourages people to get home safely and promotes good road safety, and from a CSR perspective it’s brilliant that a big company like Coca-Cola is involved in something like this. It’s clever and it’s a great opportunity for everyone to feel part of something important,” said Rebecca.

The importance of abstaining from drink while driving can never been 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 is caught driving under the influence, is loss of a license for one or more years, a fine, difficulty obtaining affordable car insurance. Some may even lose their job or face a custodial sentence.

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Taking to the driver’s seat to host her parent’s night on the town will not be the first and last Gift of a Lift Rebecca will offer up this Christmas. She has plans to ensure her friends get from A and B safely during the entire festive period as she takes to the town in her Coca-Cola car.

“I will be doing it again this week with friends and, you know what, they love it and why wouldn’t they. It makes a massive difference to their night out knowing they can get there and back easily, especially this time of year when it’s such a challenge to get home. And the best thing is, I know they will pay me back with the Gift of a Lift.”

If you want to be the Designated Driver this Christmas, visit www.DesignatedDriver.ie and check if the venue you’re visiting 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 give up the drink to drive them to and from a celebratory event.

Coca-Cola is proud to support Irish road safety by rewarding Designated Drivers who give the Gift of a Lift with two FREE drinks from Coca-Cola.

Designated Drivers can simply make themselves known to bar staff or are encouraged to visit www.DesignatedDriver.ie to download a voucher; valid when presented at participating venues across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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