Nearly Four Million Designated Drivers Have Drunk On New Years Eve

Jack Dreyer | Wednesday 27th December 2023 8:00am

  • Having food and drink paid for is most popular incentive for driving on NYE – though one in five would need to be bought a gift
  • One in six people have been in a situation on New Year’s Eve where their nominated driver has had too much to drink and been unable to drive
  • 60% of drivers say that if they want to have a drink on New Year’s Eve, nothing would persuade them to drive instead

With partygoers across the country getting ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve, many people will be trying to persuade a friend or partner to do the driving. New research has found the most effective incentives and has also revealed the need for people to ensure they can trust their designated driver. The research, carried out for Kwik Fit, found that one in six people have been in a situation on New Year’s Eve where their nominated driver has had too much to drink and been unable to drive.

Almost half of these people, equivalent to some 3.8 million drivers, admitted that it was they who were supposed to be driving their group but had too much to drink to do so. Although a similar proportion of men and women have been let down by others, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been the unreliable designated driver themselves.

Some 60% of drivers say that if they want to have a drink on New Year’s Eve, nothing would persuade them to drive instead. The researchers for Kwik Fit asked those who could be persuaded to take on chauffeur duties, what would make them offer to do so.

Of those who would be willing to stay off the alcohol and do the driving, the most popular incentive is to have all their food and drink to be paid for by others in their group (29%). This is followed by all the passengers chipping in for petrol money (25%). Trading driving on NYE for being driven on other big nights out over the festive period would persuade almost a quarter (24%), while one in five (19%) would be prepared to drive on the single night of NYE in exchange for not having to drive on multiple occasions throughout the year. Almost as many (18%) of those who could be persuaded to drive say they would do so if they were bought a gift.

When those who go out on New Year’s Eve were asked how they decide who drives, the most common deciding factors are the easiest ones – either having someone in the group who doesn’t drink alcohol and therefore always does the driving (32%) or only having one person in the group with a driving licence (14%). 12% say that they alternate from one year to the next, while 9% say the New Year’s Eve driver doesn’t drive on another ‘big night out’. 6% say they play a game to decide driving duties, with the loser having to get behind the wheel, while one in 20 settle it with a simple coin toss.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit says: “Drinking and driving should never mix, and it’s vital people can rely on their designated driver to get them home safely, especially if public transport is limited and taxis are in huge demand. However a designated New Year’s Eve driver is chosen, there’s no excuse for them to let their group down by then drinking and not being able to drive. We urge all those who are going out this New Year to decide who is driving well before the night, agree on what, if anything, the driver should get in return, and then stick to it. But whatever the agreement, no one should getting behind the wheel after drinking.”

To help settle any arguments, Kwik Fit will be asking those who follow its social media channels for their suggestions for persuading friends or partners to do the driving on New Year’s Eve, or what would persuade them to take on the driving duties themselves. Suggestions can be made on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Note to editors


  1. Research carried out by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults – fieldwork carried out 17-21 November
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