Press Releases

1999 Releases

President Clinton, Hollywood Studios & TV Networks Join Harvard in Millennium Designated Driver Push

For immediate release: November 29, 1999

Boston, MA--With alcohol sales rising in advance of the Millennium celebration, President Bill Clinton and the TV industry have joined forces with the Harvard School of Public Health in a "designated driver" media campaign aimed at preventing a spike in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. An estimated 450 people may lose their lives in alcohol-related crashes over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

At Harvard's request, President Clinton has videotaped a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging the use of designated drivers for broadcast on network television between now and New Year's. Hollywood kicks off its commitment on Monday, November 29 when CBS airs an episode of Paramount Network Television's "Becker" addressing the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and the importance of designated drivers.

President Clinton's message will air on all the major broadcast networks and on 45 national and regional cable networks. In addition, the National Association of Broadcasters is distributing the President's message by satellite to all local television stations. Some networks also plan to broadcast "designated driver" PSAs featuring their own stars, and major breweries, including Anheuser-Busch, have purchased air time for advertisements promoting the use of designated drivers.

Here is the text of President Clinton's message:

"Working together we've made enormous progress in reducing drunk driving in America. Last year the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes hit a record low. But we can't rest on our efforts, when last year almost 16,000 Americans lost their lives to drunk driving. So this holiday season, if you choose to drink, drink in moderation, and choose a designated driver who doesn't drink at all. Hillary and I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season."

"Alcohol-impaired driving poses a serious problem for the upcoming Millennium celebration," said Dr. Jay Winsten, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Frank Stanton director of the School's Center for Health Communication. "As the earth rotates through sequential time zones in a worldwide celebration, a wave of drunk-driving fatalities may follow."

"The entire upcoming holiday period is a high-risk period," Winsten said. "Our message is straightforward: Make it to the Millennium. Designate a Driver."

For the past eleven years, the Center for Health Communication of the Harvard School of Public Health has spearheaded the National Designated Driver Campaign in collaboration with the television industry and Hollywood studios. Launched in late 1988, the Campaign soon became transformed into a national movement. A broad range of prominent individuals, government agencies, national organizations and advocacy groups, professional sports leagues, major corporations, leading police departments, and brewers and distillers have endorsed and promoted the designated driver concept. According to a 1998 Roper Poll, 53% of all U.S. adults who drink, and 64% of young adults aged 18-29, have served as a designated driver or been driven home by one. Among frequent drinkers who consumed five or more drinks in the past seven days, 62% had served as a designated driver and/or been driven home by one.

When the National Designated Driver Campaign was launched in late 1988, annual alcohol-related traffic fatalities stood at 23,626. In 1998, fatalities reached a record low of 15,935. Since 1988, more than 50,000 lives have been saved due to a combination of tough laws, strict enforcement and the widespread use of designated drivers.

For further information, please contact:

Center for Health Communication 
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue 
Boston, MA 02115 
Phone: 617-432-1038 
Fax: 617-731-8184 
E-mail: chc@hsph.harvard.edu