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PennDOT: Designated drivers are real heroes of Super Bowl Sunday

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has joined four other states in the "Be a hero - be a Designated Driver" campaign -- and just in time for Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1. The campaign is pretty much to the point: Offer to be a designated driver, especially on holidays and, well, almost-holidays. Keeping even one drunk driver off the road is an act of heroism.

The founders of the nonprofit behind the campaign -- the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers -- named their organization after their son. John R. Elliott was killed 15 years ago in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. According to the campaign's website, the drunk driver also died in the crash.

Super Bowl Sunday is a big day for parties. Family and friends gathering for the day to watch pre-game shows and the game itself (or just the commercials), and that can easily translate into a day of drinking. Some football fans treat the Super Bowl the way a kid treats his 21st birthday: It's an opportunity to overindulge in just about every way.

The problem is that after a day of drinking, or even a few hours of drinking, too many people overestimate their condition and jump behind the wheel. How many times have you heard someone say, "I've been drunker!" Or, "Man, you should have seen me on St. Patrick's Day!" That's not the point. The point is that alcohol affects judgment and reflexes, and that puts the driver, his passengers and everyone else on the road -- in vehicles, on bicycles or on foot -- at risk.

The designated driver campaign doesn't just ask people to step forward. The campaign also calls on restaurants and bars to encourage people to volunteer by offering them free non-alcoholic drinks. They will also get a campaign bracelet.

Take the challenge and volunteer. Work a deal with friends that you will drive this time if someone else drives on St. Patrick's Day. If you're hosting, ask someone ahead of time to be a designated driver for guests who shouldn't drive themselves home. Take a few bucks from the beer budget and pay your teenager to drive people home.

One last thing: If you are wondering how to convince someone he or she shouldn't be driving, go to iTunes or GooglePlay and look for a sobriety test app. They're free.

Source:, "Be A Hero, Be a Designated Driver," Jan. 21, 2015

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