Doctors for Designated Driving
Howie Forman ’01, a third-year medical school
student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has founded a national
organization to promote designated drivers. Doctors for Designated
Driving is not only working to raise awareness of the importance
of having a designated driver when out drinking alcohol, but also
is enlisting businesses that serve alcohol to offer free non-alcoholic
drinks or other incentives to designated drivers.
“You hear, ‘Let’s have a designated driver,’
or you might see a TV spot, but nobody has taken it to the level
of sporting venues, bars and restaurants,” says Raymond
Scalettar ’50, a physician who advises DFDD.
The idea of incentives is not new — Forman knew of the free-sodas
policy at the stadium of his hometown NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
for example — but DFDD is the first concentrated effort to
expand and publicize a program to promote designated driving through
“It’s about making designated drivers a part of the
culture,” Forman says. “Our overall message is we’re
not anti-alcohol and anti-going out and having a good time. We’re
pro-safety for the drivers, pedestrians and everyone else on the
road.” Other Columbians involved in the organization include
Aileen Love ’95, Dan Machleder ’98
and Kate Devine ’02.
Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans
ages 5–35, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2002, one-third of the drivers who died in a crash were intoxicated;
that percentage goes up to half for fatally-injured drivers between
21–40, according to the DOT. Annually throughout the past
decade, an average of 25,000 Americans died in alcohol-related car
crashes; that’s about one every 20 minutes.
Forman, who ran the Great Columbia Smoke Out while an undergrad,
is the only student serving on the American Medical Association’s
Action Team on Alcohol and Health. Last year, he started a program
at Albert Einstein where med students go to Bronx high schools to
talk to students about alcohol abuse. In July, he was invited to
Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress at the inaugural
meeting of the STOP DUI caucus and he recently was added as a member
of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving.
DFDD has reached agreements with several restaurants and bars to
join the effort and publicize their support of designated driving
and offer driver incentives. The organization is in discussions
with TEAM Coalition — an alliance of professional sports leagues
and teams, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, the beer industry,
broadcasters, governmental traffic safety experts and others working
to promote responsible drinking and positive behavior at sports
and entertainment facilities — to institute a uniform policy
at minor league sports venues. After securing agreements with the
minor leagues, the organization hopes to move on to the majors.
“I think that the most important strategy here is sports,
because the [people involved] are the people who set trends,”
Shira Boss-Bicak ’93
Health professionals can sign a petition supporting DFDD at www.designateddriving.com.