It’s a burden no-one wants to take on. As others drink the night away, one unfortunate person is often tasked with staying clear of the alcohol, in order to fulfill their duties as designated driver. But this year, attitudes are beginning to change.

Many drivers take the risk of merely limiting their alcohol intake to a single beverage, rather than avoiding it altogether. However, as local health services ramp up their drink driving campaigns in time for the holiday season, a greater focus has been placed on the importance of total sobriety when on the road. One initiative has raised eyebrows: across the UK, a number of pubs have agreed to provide soft drinks to designated drivers for the whole evening – for free.

The campaign is extremely simple in its execution as well. Turn up to one of the participating pubs, ask for a wristband, and away you go with a whole night’s worth of free drinks. For the soft drinks market it is another huge boost. Many top brands are already benefiting from the growing focus on healthy consumption, and aligning them with public safety campaigns could well lead to another huge surge in consumption.

In addition, this may have a sizeable impact on the popularity of alcohol during the festive period. Consumers are already exposed to several responsible drinking campaigns at this time of year, and recent trends suggest these are starting to have an effect on consumption. Could campaigns such as these spark a major shift towards soft drinks this Christmas?

That is certainly the view of soft drinks producer Britvic. Undertaken by Censuswide UK, it recently commissioned research that pointed towards increased soft drinks consumption during the winter, at the expense of alcohol. Well over one third (37%) of consumers intend to opt for soft drinks more regularly, and 21% aim to reduce alcohol consumption. Results overwhelmingly hinted at a moderated approach to drinking all year round, but particularly during the holiday season.

Consumers have become especially concerned about the impact of drinks on their health, and this has led to the rising focus on small, single-serve sizes as a means for people to limit alcoholic intakes. The demand for spirits has risen due to this trend, and Britvic’s research uncovered a substantial gap in the market for premium mixers. Elsewhere, however, alcohol has struggled to maintain its popularity, and consumption of soft drinks in pubs is becoming vastly more common. The role of designated driver may not be a burden for much longer.