"Designated driver refers to the selection of a person who remains sober as the responsible driver of a vehicle whilst others have been allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. Thus as a practical and ethical matter, a designated driver is a person who abstains from alcohol on a social occasion in order to drive his or her companions home safely as an alternative to driving under the influence."
This is the definition I found for the term "designated driver" on Wikipedia, the free, online encyclopedia.
Wow! What a person to respect and be grateful to, right? What a person that today's society as a whole, and especially parents with young adult children, should be extremely grateful to and extend respect to each and every time such a person returns our loved ones home safe and sound to us.
But, what if that person doesn't get them home safe and sound? What if that person doesn't fully understand the responsibility they have taken on by accepting this designation? Then what do we think about that person?
I have been struggling to answer this question to myself for a little over two years now and still have not come to terms with it. My son, along with two of his friends, was killed in a single car accident. The car was being driven by their "designated driver" for the night and blood tests showed he had not drank a drop of alcohol that night. No surprise there; he was very responsible in that way. Based on statements that he made, both to me personally and in the court documents from his hearings, I believe he became angry at his intoxicated friends for their teasing and pressuring to driver faster. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the peer pressure and was driving at an unbelievable speed unsafe for both the road conditions and his experience as a driver, lost control of the car and flipped several times. My son and his two friends were ejected from the car and killed.
I believe there are responsibilities that come with this designation "DD" that many (especially younger people) who are chosen or volunteer for it are not aware of or certainly don't think about them at the time of acceptance.
I wonder if the Every 15 Minutes program - an excellent program that both my son and his friends participated in during high school regarding drinking and driving - needs to add another chapter regarding DDs or if there are some other areas, not just in school, but maybe DUI classes that could teach or speak on the responsibilities of being a designated driver.
These are people that we should always be able to be grateful to, not angry at because they made a momentary mistake due to pressures that can come with being a designated driver.
- Carrie Baker, mother of Zachary Baker, who died July 6, 2011 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on June 28, 2011.