TAC Designated Drivers
Road trauma remains the number one cause of death among young people worldwide. On May 11, Victoria joined the rest of the world in launching the United Nations-led Decade of Action for Road Safety - a campaign that aims to stabilise and reduce global road deaths by 2020. Last year, 288 deaths occurred on Victorian roads. As part of the ongoing TAC After Gig Guide To Road Safety Campaign - a collaborative project between the Transport Accident Commission, Mushroom Marketing, RMIT University and Beat - we caught up with some of our favourite artists and music industry/venue representatives to discuss road safety, designated drivers and our thriving live music culture.
Planning ahead, says acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Pyke, is the crucial difference between a great night and a potentially devastating one. "We usually have a crew car and band car - the crew are always super-safe and never drink whilst working, so our gear is in good hands. As a band, however, we are known to enjoy a few choice whiskies, so we always have a designated driver to get back to the hotel. There have been occasions where we leave the car at the venue, get cabs, and get the car the next day. It's always better than taking a stupid risk."
Sparkadia's Alex Burnett emphasises the need to be responsible when drinking at gigs. "You're always going to have a drink or two, so it's best to have your roles clearly set out," says Burnett. "I never drive to and from gigs. I always plan beforehand and always make sure to have enough money for a cab or public transport home."
It's not uncommon for Michael Gudinski - Chairman of The Mushroom Group - to attend two or three gigs in the one night, but having a personal designated driver inevitably helps. "Rarely a week goes by where I am not out seeing live music," says Gudinski. "I used to leave my car at gigs rather than risk driving. In fact, once I came back to collect it the next day and my car had been damaged, but it was still a much better option than driving under the influence. Getting to this many gigs on a regular basis was going to involve times when I might have a few drinks, so the idea of getting a designated driver to get me to and from the gigs safely made a lot of sense. I was fortunate enough to find someone who knew the music industry well and could cope with the late nights and diverse array of venues and personalities that are a part of this life and employed him as my driver.
"I realise the majority of live music fans are not in a position to employ their own personal designated driver the way that I can, but they are all in a position to make their own plans on how to get home safely after a gig. Melbourne has such a great live music scene for people to enjoy. Making sure you and your friends can get home safely after a great live show should be a part of this experience."
Carl Gardiner - Managing Director of Mushroom Marketing - says that getting home safely involves sharing the load when it comes to assigning designated drivers. "Having a good friend or co-worker who doesn't drink and is happy to be a regular designated driver helps," he adds. "Why ruin a great night by being smashed up in a road accident or losing your licence?"
Gardiner loves the depth, quality and diversity of our city's live music scene: "Sound Relief was an absolutely amazing experience and showed just what our Industry is capable of and how we can connect with the broader community."
Grumpy's Green is an eco-friendly lounge bar with the principle of "eating and drinking locally-produced beer, wine and food with an eye on being environmentally responsible and not being preachy about it… with quality musicians of all varieties in a warm cosy bar". For owner Nick Johnston, getting home safely means taking the cab: "There is no better way to kill a buzz and a great night out than getting busted for DUI. I've lived and played in cities like Paris and New York and nothing compares to Melbourne. It's a very unique city," says the proprietor who cites, "Nicky Bomba and Andrew Swann playing percussion with all the bottles behind the bar; Spencer P Jones... enough said," as performances he enjoyed with a beer at work.
Musicland is a specialty production venue and studio, "built by musos for musicians", which opened in 2006. "Here at Musicland, we're about having a good time in a safe environment at the venue as well as on the way home. Melbourne offers one of the most diverse music scenes I have seen in the world. You go to New Orleans for blues, New York for jazz, Eastern Europe for metal, Sweden for Abba, but in Melbourne you can go venue to venue, inner city to outer city and see it all. Music in Melbourne - that's what we are all about. After a long night, I have two bottles of water and a quick rest before my short trip home. We love the fact that people can car pool into the venue or catch the train, which is only 500m down the road. If you come to the venue to have a drink, it's plain and simple: just don't drive for the $20 or $30 you would save by not catching a cab - it's not worth your life or the life of someone else."
One of the newest live music venues in Melbourne is The Prague, which opened early 2010. "Our philosophy is to support Australian musicians and artists by providing an excellent, high quality space for them to perform or exhibit. We're really amped about having our first international band, Forbidden, play this week but we take pride in nurturing young local talent and helping them take the next step," says Matt Young - band booker/promoter.
"The diversity is something that makes the Melbourne scene stand out from the rest. The unity between bands, venues and promoters is much stronger here than in other cities, as exemplified by the SLAM rally. It's something that all people involved in the music industry in Melbourne can be proud of." Matt suggests camaraderie in the industry extends to the trip home: "Road safety should be discussed before and after gigs on a regular basis. The Prague is lucky enough to have tram stops right out the front of the venue, and a train station a five-minute stroll away. It's never a problem to get a taxi. I usually drive home, as I'm not a regular drinker. If I drink, I always catch a taxi. I would suggest people plan ahead and make sure they know how they will be getting home at the end of the night, and to stick with that plan. The public transport system in Melbourne is vast and there are not many places it won't take you."