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Recognizing the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Recognizing the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers

Senator Cory Booker
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
July 14, 2015

Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, each year, tens of thousands of lives are lost and millions more are injured in collisions on our Nation's highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 40 percent of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. This preventable behavior continues to impose a terrible toll on our families and our Nation.

To eradicate drunk driving from our roads, we must change our Nation's culture around stepping behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. A major way to enact this change is to encourage and celebrate the role of designated drivers--those who make a commitment to remain sober to ensure that the passengers in their vehicle return home safely at the end of the night.

For this reason, I rise today to honor the 15th anniversary of the HERO Campaign, which works to create partnerships that encourage and support designated drivers.

The HERO Campaign was created in memory of U.S. Navy ENS John Elliott, a New Jersey resident and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Ensign Elliott was an outstanding citizen and Naval cadet. In each of his 4 years at Annapolis, Elliott was selected by his peers to serve as a human education resource officer, or HERO, to mentor fellow members of his company. At graduation, Elliott was honored as the outstanding HERO in his class.

On July 22, 2000, Ensign Elliott was driving to his home in Egg Harbor Township, NJ with his girlfriend when his vehicle was struck by an oncoming vehicle that crossed into his lane. The driver of that vehicle was operating under the influence of alcohol. Along with Ensign Elliott, that driver was killed in the collision.

Shortly after Ensign Elliott's life came to its untimely end, his parents, Bill and Muriel Elliott, started the HERO Campaign. The HERO Campaign is a non-profit organization that brings together schools, professional sports teams, law enforcement, taverns and restaurants, and community groups to recognize and encourage designated drivers.

Since its inception, the HERO Campaign has registered more than 100,000 designated drivers at sports stadiums, concerts, schools, and colleges in 7 States. In New Jersey, the HERO Campaign contributed to a 35.4 percent decline in alcohol-related driving fatalities in the general population and a 65.1 percent decline for those under 21 years of age. Truly, the accomplishments of the HERO Campaign are nothing less than heroic.

But their work is not done yet. The ultimate goal of the HERO Campaign is to register one million designated drivers across our Nation, and to ensure that having a designated driver before stepping out for the night becomes as automatic as putting on a seatbelt when getting into the car. As Bill Elliott says, the message is simple: ``Who's your HERO tonight?''

I can safely say that, to me, Bill and Muriel Elliott and their colleagues at the HERO Campaign are my heroes this and every night. I commend their accomplishments and support their efforts to save lives by helping others realize their heroic potential as designated drivers.

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