LANSING, MICH. -- March 15, 2012 -- Michigan's Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) have joined forces and leveraged new technology to aid in the fight against drunk driving. A new campaign featuring beverage coasters with special QR codes launched in hundreds of MLBA establishments across Michigan today, just in time for St. Patrick's Day and the beginning of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
QR codes (quick response) are the latest "tech"-nique to curb drunk driving by helping motorists easily find a safe, sober ride home. Hundreds of bars and restaurants in Michigan will be serving drinks on coasters featuring the specially designed code. Using a smartphone app to scan the code, users will be provided with a phone list of local cab companies.*
The QR code is meant to appeal to tech-savvy young adults who are more likely to own smartphones than adults as a whole. In 2010, men represented nearly 80 percent of drinking drivers in alcohol-involved fatal crashes. Of those male drivers, nearly 40 percent were men 21 to 34 years old. Statistics indicate men are arrested for drunk driving at a rate of nearly three to every one woman in Michigan.
"The goal, always, is to encourage motorists to be safe and responsible when behind the wheel," said Michael L. Prince, director of the OHSP. "The coasters are meant to reinforce this important message."
With the help of the MLBA, the coasters have been distributed to more than 500 members in locations where cab service is readily available.
"As sellers and servers of alcohol, MLBA members are on the front lines of the fight against drunken driving every day," said Scott Ellis, executive director of the MLBA. "This partnership with OHSP delivers an innovative new tool to offer our customers, promoting responsibility and safety across Michigan."
The coasters will be in place at the same time law enforcement agencies in 26 counties are stepping up drunk driving enforcement through April 2. The effort will involve officers from local police departments, deputies from county sheriff offices and troopers from the Michigan State Police.
For the first time, OHSP is incorporating a nearly three-week spring drunk driving crackdown in its traffic safety efforts. Federal traffic safety funds will be used to support the additional enforcement.
In the past, March drunk driving efforts have been focused only on St. Patrick's Day. A five-year review of crash data indicates alcohol use and failure to buckle up play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes during the month and into early April. March includes St. Patrick's Day, many school spring break periods and college basketball tournament games.
Law enforcement agencies have planned nearly 7,500 hours of additional drunk driving patrols.
Last year during the men's college basketball tournament timeframe (March 15-April 4), law enforcement officers arrested 2,215 motorists for drunk driving; 613 of those people were charged under the state's high blood-alcohol content law.
*Users will be asked permission to use the phone's location feature.