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NIDA. (2015, January 8). Designated Drivers—You Are Not Alone. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
January 8 2015
Graphic - 3 out of 4 use designated drivers

A new survey from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance found that 3 out of 4 people use designated drivers (DD). The DD is the person who does not drink, use drugs, or even take medication that might impair their driving.  By the way, the DD is NOT the least drunk person in the group---they are the ones who don’t use any drug or alcohol at all at a party or event, even a little bit.

Why do they choose DDs?

Because they want to get home in one piece. 

The MADD survey reveals that 75% of the people who volunteer to be the DD do so because they want to get home safely, and 85% ride with a sober driver for the same reason.  Another reason for being or using a DD was not wanting to get in trouble with the law.

Problem solved, right?

Not quite. It’s awesome that so many people understand the dangers of drunk driving and chose to use a DD. But there are still many who do not. While drunk driving deaths decreased by 2.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, they still account for 31 percent of overall traffic deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s too many, considering drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable, 100 percent of the time. That’s 32,719 deaths that could have been prevented in 2013.

What about drugged driving?

Driving after using other drugs is a real problem as well. An estimated 9.9 million people—or 3.8 percent of adolescents and adults—reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. The good news is that number has decreased a little.

Drugged driving, like drunk driving, causes traffic deaths. One NHTSA study found that in 2009, 18 percent of drivers killed in accidents tested positive for at least one drug.

What if I need a DD?

If you’ve read our blog or any of our fact sheets, then you know that drinking alcohol and using drugs is a bad idea.  But don’t make things worse by driving or getting into a car with someone who has been using.  The best thing to do is to choose a DD before the group goes out.   

If you didn’t plan ahead, or your DD flakes out and uses drugs or alcohol, then here are a few alternative ways to get home:

  • Call a cab.  Google it on your phone or call 411 to get the number. And always bring along a little extra cash just in case you need it.
  • Contact your local safe ride program. SafeRide America is a great place to start (they even have an app!). 
  • Find out (in advance) what your community offers. Many have their own “safe driver” programs.
  • Request a ride from Uber, Lyft, or other car service.
  • Use public transportation if you are traveling in a group of two or more (safety in numbers). If you have a smart phone, Google Maps will help you navigate using buses and rail.
  • Call mom, dad, or a trusted adult.  Who knows? They might be less mad because you did the responsible thing.
  • Stay put.  If you’re at a friend’s house, or near a friend’s house, sleep it off and drive home in the morning.

Tell us in comments: What do you do or say to stop a friend from driving under the influence?