Stay sober scheme launched

Number 15 owner Tony Callaghan is backing a government initiative to provide all christmas party designated drivers free soft drinks over this year's festive party season
Number 15 owner Tony Callaghan is backing a government initiative to provide all christmas party designated drivers free soft drinks over this year's festive party season

DOZENS of local pubs and clubs have signed up to a Government-backed scheme to prevent drink-driving.

Hooking up with Coca Cola, the licencees are among thousands across the country who were today unveiled as Designated Driver pubs.

Under the scheme a motorist who stays alcohol-free on a trip out so he can give the rest of his party a lift home is entitled to free soft drinks all evening.

It is part of the THINK! Christmas drink-drive campaign, launched today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

It includes radio advertising, posters in pub washrooms, online search activity and targeted Facebook advertising to remind drivers of the personal consequences of a drink-drive conviction. But the most eye-catching element of the 2011 crusade is Designated Driver.

One of the Wigan businessmen subscribing to the campaign is Tony Callaghan who will have it up and running at all his Number 15 and Little 15 bars.

He said: “I think it’s a great idea to give designated drivers soft drinks for free. If we can prevent anyone from drink-driving and so perhaps prevent an accident then it will be very worthwhile.

“I would go a step further and encourage all the folk who are going to have a drink to chip in so that their designated driver gets his or her meal free too. After all it’s not always very nice being the only one not drinking on a night out.

“And don’t forget you are saving on taxis in the process. I think most bars should do this.”

The 15 bars also have a similar designated driver scheme going with both the Wigan Plus shoppers scheme and the Grand Arcade car park. Drivers will be able to find other local participating venues using the Coca-Cola Pub Finder tool, either online or via their smart phones.

The THINK! campaign activity is aimed at young men aged 17 to 29, who are consistently over-represented in drink-drive casualty figures.

Mr Penning said: “Our THINK! campaign makes it clear that drivers who get behind the wheel over the limit risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence.

“We are also teaming up with Coca-Cola and pub chains across the country to reward designated drivers as part of our Drive Friendly initiative, as well as reminding people of the consequences of getting a drink drive conviction.

“No one wants to spend their Christmas in a police cell. My message is clear: don’t drink and drive.”