SANTA FE – New Mexico is taking its fight against drunken driving to men's restrooms around the state.
The state has ordered 500 talking urinal cakes that will deliver a recorded anti-DWI message to bar and restaurant patrons who make one last pit stop before getting behind the wheel.
"Hey there, big guy. Having a few drinks?" a female voice says a few seconds after an approaching male sets off a motion sensor in the device. "It's time to call a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride home."
Transportation Department spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the urinal cakes are a way to reach one group that's a target of state safety campaigns. Men commit about three times as many drunken-driving infractions as women.
The devices, manufactured by New York-based Healthquest Technologies Inc., were invented by Richard Deutsch. He said there's no other device like it on the market.
"The idea is based on the concept that there is no more captive audience than a guy standing at a urinal," Deutsch said. "You can't look right and you can't look left; you've got to look at the ad."
Public awareness campaigns in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Australia have used the devices, as have commercial advertisers.
In New Mexico, the device uses the state DWI slogan "You drink, you drive, you lose."
Some Albuquerque bars installed the devices this week, and the state plans to distribute them to Santa Fe bars and restaurants as well as establishments in Farmington, Gallup and Las Cruces.
The state spent $21 for each talking urinal cake for the pilot program but will ask bars and restaurants to pay for future orders if the idea catches on, Mahesh said.
The cakes have enough battery power to last about three months.