Irvine, Calif., Jan. 31, 2014 – UC Irvine’s Health Education Center has received a grant of $673,000 from the California Office of Traffic Safety – through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – to promote responsible alcohol consumption and safe driving. It’s the fifth consecutive year the center has been awarded such a grant.

In partnership with RADD, “the entertainment industry’s voice for road safety,” UC Irvine has organized 19 universities into a California College DUI Awareness Project consortium over the last four years. The new funding will facilitate that work, permitting the addition of two new regions and 11 more campuses.

RADD encourages bars and restaurants to provide free nonalcoholic drinks, appetizers and other incentives to designated drivers carrying a RADD card. Participating businesses get free listings on regional websites and a RADD rewards card.

“This project continues to grow because of the powerful partnerships that are created,” said Doug Everhart, director of the Health Education Center and principal investigator on the grant project. “The participating establishments understand and value their responsibility to recognize and reward sober designated drivers, who serve a very important role in getting their friends home safely. This business/consumer relationship also contributes to a positive town-and-gown relationship between campuses and the communities in which students live and socialize.”

UC Irvine data shows that most students on campus already make good decisions when it comes to being safe after consuming alcohol, said Rosezetta Henderson, grants coordinator at the Health Education Center. “This program reinforces those positive decisions by giving students an approach they can immediately benefit from,” she said.

The project currently comprises 19 campuses in six regions: San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Sacramento and San Francisco’s South Bay area. It will be expanded this grant year to include 11 new campuses in the Central Coast and Central Valley.

The California College DUI Awareness Project uses a variety of tactics to get its message across. At UC Irvine, the RADD Crew appears at campus events such as Shocktoberfest, Reggaefest and Wayzgoose and speaks to Greek leaders and athletic teams. Toyota donated a 2012 Scion xB wrapped with RADD graphics to help spread the word.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

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