Michigan to use talking urinal cakes to help curb drunk driving

The talking urinal cakes offer a humorous, yet true warning about the perils of drunk driving. WWJ/Vickie Thomas

(CBS/AP) DETROIT - Michigan hopes to keep drunks off the road with the help from a special message in men's bathrooms featuring an attention-getting woman's voice.

Talking urinal-deodorizer cakes have been distributed to Michigan Licensed Beverage Association members Wayne County, including Detroit, state officials announced. A recorded message will play reminding men who step up to the urinals to call a cab or a friend, if needed, to get home safely.

"Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking, we hope everyone takes the message to heart," Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, said in a statement.

The message starts out with, "Had a few drinks? Maybe a few too many?" according to CBS station WWJ in Detroit. It reminds the men to "do everyone else a favor" and call a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride home.

"And we hope that by using surprise and a little bit of humor in a unique location will make a lasting impression on every male that hears the message," Melody Kindraka, with the Office of Highway Safety Planning, told WWJ.

The message is aimed at Michigan men because they are three times more likely to drive drunk than women, according to Kindraka.

Bay, Ottawa and Delta counties also are getting them. The motion-activated messages are part of a statewide Fourth of July education and enforcement effort. The federally funded drunken driving crackdown runs through Sunday. It also includes stepped up patrols in 26 counties involving a number of agencies.

"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," said Michigan Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Scott T. Ellis.

Talking urinal cakes have been used in other states for similar efforts. In 2007, New Mexico employed about 500 urinal-deodorizing cakes in men's restrooms and bars across the state. Men in that state accounted for 78 percent of all DUI-related convictions in New Mexico.

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