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Text messages and red noses for New Year

Operation "Red Nose" involves taking people home who do not feel up to driving. Keystone

As the champagne corks popped, the Swiss clicked away feverishly, sending a record number of text messages to wish their friends and loved ones a happy new year.

This content was published on January 2, 2007 - 16:38

Another record was the number of people taking advantage of a lift home after enjoying a drink. Thanks to the "Red Nose" road safety campaign, throughout December and over New Year over 24,000 people were delivered home safely by a volunteer driver.

Between December 31, 2006 and New Year's Day, the Swiss sent a total of 92.2 million messages – text, photo and video messages – using their telephones – an average of 12.5 per inhabitant.

"We sent some 42.3 million text and photo messages – up ten per cent on the previous year," said Carsten Roetz, spokesman for Swisscom.

The two biggest mobile competitors, Sunrise and Orange, were also busy over the two days, notching up 24.5 million and 23.4 million text messages, respectively.

And despite a few minor delays, all three operators claim they were able to deal successfully with the traditional bottleneck between 11pm on New Year's Eve and 1am on New Year's Day.

Rudolf

Meanwhile, the volunteers working for the "Red Nose" foundation also had a busy time over New Year. They were called out 2,710 times and drove home a record 6,766 people who were unable to get behind the wheel of their car, whether due to too much alcohol or to tiredness.

Between December 1, 2006 and January 1, 2007, they assisted a total of 24,358 people, or 36 per cent more than the previous year.

The 7,138 volunteers carried out 11,768 journeys, covering some 449,598 kilometres, according to the foundation.

In French-speaking Switzerland, the services of the "Red Nose" team from canton Geneva were the most in demand – 2,492 people were driven home, up by 50 per cent. While in the Swiss German region, some 3,050 people from canton Aargau dialled the "Red Nose" hotline.

swissinfo with agencies

OPERATION RED NOSE

Operation "Red Nose" is a national preventive road safety action designed to reduce the number of road accidents caused by drivers who are unfit to get behind the wheel of their car.

The campaign, which runs during the Christmas holiday period, involves taking people home who do not feel well enough to drive. Anyone who is tired or has consumed alcohol, drugs or medicines can dial a free telephone number and hand over their car keys to a volunteer who will drive them home using their own vehicle.

The concept, which originated in French-speaking Canada, was introduced in Switzerland by Jean-Luc Baierlé, a doctor from canton Jura.

Since the start of the campaign in 1990, some 128,875 people have been given a lift home in their own car by a "Red Nose" volunteer.

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