Yes, that urinal is talking to you

A woman’s voice in a men’s restroom? That’s the attention-getting plan behind the latest designated driver promotion now in hundreds of restrooms around the state.

Working with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), restaurant and bar owners have been asked to place “talking” urinal cakes in restrooms to encourage and remind patrons to call a cab or a friend to get home safely.

The restroom reminders are part of a larger effort that also includes a statewide Fourth of July drunk driving crackdown.

“While this message isn’t new, the method of delivery certainly is,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) which plans and coordinates this federally funded effort. “Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking, we hope everyone takes the message to heart.”

The talking urinal cakes have been used by other states for the same purpose. This one-of-a-kind promotion uses a urinal cake that features a print message and a brief motion-activated audio. According to the manufacturer, “using the elements of surprise and humor in a truly unique location will make a lasting impression on every male that sees it.” “We’re working closely with OHSP so patrons understand our members want them to get home safely every time,” says MLBA Executive Director Scott T. Ellis. “At first it may be seen as humorous, but the seriousness of the message will stand out and encourage patrons to find a safe ride home.”
Local, county and state law enforcement officers in 26 counties will conduct additional drunk driving patrols through July 8.

While enforcement is taking place across the state, the urinal cakes have been distributed in Wayne, Bay, Ottawa and Delta counties. Law enforcement agencies in other counties will be displaying banners to remind motorists of the drunk driving crackdown.

The message is especially important for young men. In 2011, men represented more than 80 percent of drinking drivers in alcohol-involved fatal crashes. Of those male drivers, more than 40 percent were men 21 to 34 years old. Statistics indicate men are arrested for drunk driving at a rate of nearly three to every one woman in Michigan.