designated driver [noun] [de Bob, de Bobben]

“Bob” was introduced by the Belgian government in 1995. In Belgium, Bob is a person who sets the good example by not drinking and driving. Their campaign was quite successful and, amongst other countries, the Netherlands introduced Bob too. However, “Who is this Bob?”, many people asked. It must mean something! So the term “Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder” was created. This translates to: “Consciously Non-Drunk Driver”.

“Beschonken” is derived from “schenken” which in this context means “to pour” or “to serve” (drinks).

So “Bob” became an abbreviation instead of a name, and we immediately derived a verb “bobben”, which is basically only used in one example. You encounter it when driving on the Dutch motor/high ways; see below.

– “Wie is er vanavond de Bob?”
(“Who is the designated driver tonight?”)

– “Bob jij of bob ik?”
(“Are you the designated driver, or am I?” Literally: “Do you bob, or do I bob?”)

– “Wil je wat drinken?” – “Ja graag, doe maar een colaatje; ik ben vanavond de Bob!”
(“Would you like something to drink?” – “Yes please, I’ll have a coke; tonight I am the designated driver!” Mind that “colaatje” is the diminutive of “cola” and implies a glass of cola.)

– “Ik ben het zat om altijd maar de Bob te zijn! Volgende keer ben jij aan de beurt!”
(“I’ve had it with always being the designated driver! Next time it is your turn!”)

– “We moeten voor vanavond even een Bob regelen!”
(“We have to arrange a designated driver for tonight!” Some smart students started up a “Rent-a-Bob” service some time ago. If you call them, a driver will show up on a foldable (!) moped. Once folded, the moped will go in the boot/trunk of your car and he will drive you home! It used to be the case that they showed up with two, together on one moped. The other would follow on the moped and afterwards they would leave on the same moped again. It is not available everywhere unfortunately. Check it out at !)

– “Je bent top Bob!”
(“You are the best Bob!” or “You are great Bob!”. This phrase is part of the Bob-campaign. Check it out at . Here you can also order a “OpblaasBob”, literally a “blow-up Bob”. This is a pun, since “opblaaspop” is the Dutch word for an inflatable doll.)

Thuiskomen_lichtaan_1The Bob-campaign is part of the overall “Daar kun je mee thuis komen” – traffic safety campaign. This phrase is used for any good driving behaviour (or cycling behaviour – see the add to the right.)
Why? Well, the expression literally means: “You can come home with that” and is used when behaviour or an achievement is so good that it is good enough to be appreciated and/or praised by your parents or your family at home (versus punishment if your grades are bad for example 😉 ). However, it is used as a pun here, since good behaviour in traffic of course also gets you home! (Which is the point!)