EVESHAM >> A drunk driving prevention campaign inspired by the death of a young naval officer is teaming up with Evesham Township to save lives by recruiting scores of new designated drivers.
At a news conference June 17, representatives of the township and the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign unveiled a police car branded with the campaign logo and message: Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver. The cruiser will be a rolling billboard promoting designated driving during regular patrols and at special events, including parades and tonight’s Project Graduation event for seniors of Cherokee High School.
At the ceremony, officials also announced plans to launch the Highway HEROES program, which will distribute thousands of HERO decals to motorists throughout the township this summer. Motorists who are spotted displaying the HERO decal and its designated driver message will receive thank you gift certificates provided by local businesses in support of the summer campaign, beginning July 4. Distribution locations for decals will be available on the campaign website at herocampaign.org/Evesham.
“We know designated drivers save lives, and we are excited to be partnering with the HERO Campaign to eliminate DUI incidents and injuries in Evesham,” noted Mayor Jaclyn Veasy.
Police Chief Christopher Chew added, “We are committed to eliminating drunk and impaired driving and welcome the HERO Campaign to Evesham Township.”
The non-profit HERO Campaign was established by the family of Navy Ensign John Elliott of Egg Harbor Township, who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in July 2000, two months after graduating from the United States Naval Academy, where he was named the outstanding HERO (Human Education Resource Officer) of his graduating class.
The campaign has grown into a large regional movement partnering with towns, schools, colleges, bar and tavern owners and professional sports teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies. The organization has registered over 100,000 designated drivers, who have taken the campaign’s online HERO Pledge to be and to have designated drivers whenever friends and family members are drinking alcoholic beverages.
The campaign has contributed to a 20 percent decline in DUI incidents and deaths in New Jersey over the past decade. “We believe the cure for drunk driving is a non-drinking designated driver,” said Bill Elliott, John Elliott’s father and co-founder of the HERO Campaign and with his wife Muriel. He added: “A designated driver is free and the real ‘Life of the Party.