GALLOWAY -- Last year at this time, we told you about a new effort by the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, which was rolling out a digital ID card for DDs to show at New Jersey bars and taverns in exchange for free non-alcoholic drinks.

While that endeavor has now grown to include more than 200 establishments, it's not the only interesting summer development for the HERO Campaign, launched after its namesake was killed by a drunk driver in 2000.

Bill Elliott, John's father, is excited about the campaign's new agreement with Uber, a company he called a "natural partner" in the fight to clear New Jersey's roadways of intoxicated motorists. More than 1,500 Uber drivers have signed on to be available at peak social hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

First-time Uber customers picked up by these drivers could also take advantage of discounts up to $20 on their rides.

Something exclusive to the summer of 2017 is the Great HEROtini Mocktail Challenge, going on now in Atlantic and Cape May counties. The idea is for area bars to create alcohol-free mixed drinks that can be offered to DDs. On Sept. 14 at Seaview Golf Club, a panel of celebrity judges will help determine, along with a summer-long voting process, the best-tasting mocktail, the best drink name, and the top bartender and establishment.

"They're going beyond just the soft drink into something that looks and feels like a real martini or a cocktail, but allows you to be the safe, designated driver because it's alcohol-free," Bill Elliott said. "It's a way to get the bars and the taverns involved in promoting, recognizing, and really taking care of the designated driver who is, after all, the real life of the party."

Other HERO Campaign staples continue as well, including the 100,000 HEROES pledge program to attract more designated drivers, and further discounts soon to be announced for HERO ID cardholders.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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