Following fatal traffic accidents, the duty of informing loved ones often falls to a state police officer.
“There is probably few more tragic events in the life of a Pennsylvania state trooper,” said Frank Noonan, PA State Policy Commissioner. “And it’s even more tragic when we find that the accident was caused by a drunk driver because all of those are preventable.”
In an effort to curb the number of drunk driving-related accidents in the commonwealth, the State Police Department is teaming up with several other departments and agencies to launch a HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers in Pennsylvania.
The John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers was created by Bill and Muriel Elliott in memory of their son, U.S. Navy Ensign John R. Elliott, who was killed in a collision with a drunk driver in July 2000.
While at the U.S. Naval Academy, Ens. Elliott was selected as a Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) to counsel and mentor other members of his company and was named “the outstanding HERO” of his graduating class. Ens. Elliott was killed two months after graduating from the academy.
“We are proud to bring the HERO Campaign to Pennsylvania and to work with our partners to prevent drunken driving tragedies like the one that took the life of our son,” said Bill Elliott, John’s father. “We want to spare other families from suffering a similar loss.”
The Pennsylvania State Police, PennDOT and the Liquor Control Board will team up in the effort, which will include pleas to designate a driver on highway digital message boards, posters in participating bars and restaurants and thousands of car window decals that will be distributed at upcoming State Police DUI checkpoints.
The Pennsylvania-based restaurant chain Red Robin will serve as the corporate sponsor. The company will encourage other restaurants and bars that sell liquor to offer free soft drinks to any designated driver.
“This is the time of year when people will gather with friends, colleagues and family to enjoy time together and celebrate the upcoming holidays. Often, those social events include alcohol,” said PLCB Chairman Joseph E. Brion. “If you’re getting behind the wheel, one alcoholic drink is one alcoholic drink too many.”
Noonan said this time of year always involves parties and that is why it made sense to launch the awareness campaign now. “When you think about it, these are good people a lot of times that just have one to many drinks and goes out and has a tragic accident that ends their life or the life of some innocent person.”