Pubs and clubs in Leigh and Atherton have signed up to a Government-backed scheme to prevent drink-driving.
Hooking up with Coca Cola, the licencees are among thousands across the country who were today unveiled as Designated Driver pubs.
Under the scheme a motorist who stays alcohol-free on a trip out so he can give the rest of his party a lift home is entitled to free soft drinks all evening.
It is part of the THINK! Christmas drink-drive campaign, launched this week by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.
It includes radio advertising, posters in pub washrooms, online search activity and targeted Facebook advertising to remind drivers of the personal consequences of a drink-drive conviction. But the most eye-catching element of the 2011 crusade is Designated Driver. And pubs in the area already signed up include The Avenue, The Ellesmere and The Greyhound in Leigh; The Atherton Arms and Old Isaacs in Atherton.
Stephen Morris, landlord of the Atherton Arms on Tyldesley Road, said: “Quite a few of our customers do travel to visit our pub, and they tend to come in the car and fetch their families down at Christmas, so they really like the designated driving scheme.
“Someone will always take a chance, but you really shouldn’t because the police are watching everyone leaving the pub car parks, especially at this time of year.
“I think the older people are more conscious about the dangers, but some younger people do tend to drink and drive a bit more, so hopefully this scheme will help to get the message across.”
Drivers will be able to find other local participating venues using the Coca-Cola Pub Finder tool, either online or via their smart phones.
And one non-drinker who declined to be named said: “I think it’s a great scheme.
“Some places charge nearly as much for soft drinks as they do for alcohol so now I think more of my friends will volunteer to keep off alcohol so they can drive everyone else home.”
The THINK! campaign activity is aimed at young men aged 17 to 29, who are consistently over-represented in drink-drive casualty figures.
Mr Penning said: “Our THINK! campaign makes it clear that drivers who get behind the wheel over the limit risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence.
“We are also teaming up with Coca-Cola and pub chains across the country to reward designated drivers as part of our Drive Friendly initiative, as well as reminding people of the consequences of getting a drink drive conviction.
“No one wants to spend their Christmas in a police cell. My message is clear: don’t drink and drive.”