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【June 30, Taipei】 Driving under the influence of alcohol or drunk driving was rated the second of the top 10 most common cause of traffic accidents in 2005 with a fatality rate of 1.07 people for every drunk driving incident nationwide in the same year, according to National Police Agency (NPA). The NPA’s National Statistics Report shows that over the past five years that an average of 468 people died annually due to drunk driving, meaning every day 1.28 families lose a loved one due to drunk driving. Drunk driving is not only irresponsible behavior affecting the individual and family but also exacts a high cost for society through emergency services, police, ambulance, medical insurance and other costs. To avoid tragedy and to reduce drunk driving incidents, the designated driver concept is a solution for party goers and social drinkers. In many societies, the majority of adults who drink have used the designated driver concept to get home safely. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) marked a striking success in 1998 after the tenth anniversary of its National Designated Driver Campaign launched. Belgium initiated a Bob campaign in 1995 and since 2001 the Europe Union Commission has supported a campaign to reduce drunk driving across thirteen European countries. This year, the Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum (TBAF) has also adopted the “Bob, the designated driver” campaign from the Europe Union to promote this concept in Taiwan.
How to transform the “don’t drink and drive” slogan to a national movement is essential to combat the increasing number of drunk driving fatalities in Taiwan. Due to the successful introduction of the designated driver concept in both North America and 17 European countries, TBAF is bringing “Bob, the designated driver” campaign to Taiwan, the first country in Asia to do so. The concept of designated driver is to ask one person in a group of friends not to drink during a night out so that s/he is able to drive her/his friends home safely afterwards. The person named Bob of course is not always the same person as the designated driver responsibility should alternate among friends in the group every time they go out for drinks. Since Belgium initiated the designated driver concept in 1995, European countries have achieved 68% participation rate and seventeen countries supported the designated driver program in 2006.
In the face of an ever-increasing number of drunk-driving incidents and limited prospects of success of simply asking people to exercise self-restraint when drinking, the designated driver concept would better serve to prevent tragedies and will become the focus of TBAF efforts in the future. According to TBAF Chairperson, Frank Chang, “Continuously promoting the designated driver concept will be the main objective of TBAF in the future”. Chairman Chang also called on the government, NGOs, private corporations and individuals to participate in the campaign together.
TBAF Executive Director, Jessica Fu explains that everyone, including families, friends, and even taxi-drivers, could be Bob. Bob is just a name; and in some European countries the designated driver is not even called Bob. The campaign is to encourage the behavior and concept of “designated driver”, which could safeguard the safety of friends, reduce costs both social and economic stemming from drunk driving incidents.
The annual death toll resulting from drunk-driving may not seem terrifying to the public; but the fatalities create enormous social problems and unbearable loss to the families concerned. The injured also face serious difficulties adapting to life after accidents. In addition, the high fatality rate of the drink-driving is 1.07 implies that drunk-driving poses a threat not only to drivers but also passengers. The NPA’s figures show that the drunk-driving increased 25.83% in 2005. However drunk-driving incidents are not taken seriously enough by government, the media and the public. Volunteering to be Bob will help reduce drunk-driving incidents.
Tse-Ying Lin (Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Taipei City Government) and Taiwan Taxi drivers together are promoting the slogan “Today, I am the designated driver, Bob”. Commissioner Lin hopes that everyone can be proud to be Bob and help create a safer traffic environment. He points out that high drinking-driving rate is closely linked to the concept of road-user social responsibility. Road-users should not ignore the social responsibilities while enjoying the conveniences. Not drinking and driving is a mature and responsible attitude, which can protect one’s self and others. The drunk-driving incidents and fatalities have remained in single digit-figures in Taipei since 2002. Commissioner Lin encourages Taipei citizens join the “designated drive” campaign to eliminate drunk driving in Taipei.
To promote more participation and understanding of the benefits of having a designated driver when going out drinking, TBAF has produced “Bob, the designated driver” TV commercial in collaboration with leading media agencies and television networks to present the designated driver concept nationwide. To enhance the awareness of the designated driver concept, we will launch a consumer event “be BOB, fun trip” in Taipei city for a month from July 1st. The event has been arranged in conjunction with Tourism Malaysia, Taiwan Taxi, the Taipei city government, and a number of hotels, bars and restaurants. Tourism Malaysia Deputy Director Mr. Junaidy points out that the designated driver campaign is an international charity event and we are one of the members of the society. “We are grateful to provide trips to Malaysia and bring the drunk driving issue to the public’s attention.
“be BOB, fun trip” event will be launched at the Lounge Bar of Evergreen Hotel Taipei, Landis Taipei, Coyote Club, Brown Sugar, Q Taipei, Hua House, Nice, Chin, Li-Dai, The Original, Santa Italian Cuisine and Chinese Gourmet restaurants, etc. Members of the public can win a free trip to Malaysia by volunteering to be Bob when dinning at the above bars/restaurants. To qualify, participating “Bobs” simply need to get a stamp from a chop on the flip side of their coasters at participating restaurants/bars as they are leaving the premises to drive their friends home safely. Participants should write their name and contact details and then mail their coasters to TBAF. The address is 11th Fl., 285 Zhongxiao E. Road, Section 4, Taipei, Attention: Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum. The lucky draw is scheduled for August 15th, 2006. Jessica Fu points out that everyone who has been Bob, a designated driver on a night out with friends, can attend the event. Tourism Malaysia is providing six free trip packages to Malaysia for “Bob, the designated driver” participants for the lucky draw. Everyone can join the event and promote a country free from drunk-driving.