LONG BRANCH, NJ (CBS) – Bar owners in New Jersey are launching an new initiative in an effort to prevent drunk driving this holiday season.

The New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association and its members are teaming up with Uber and the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers to provide safe rides home for thousands.

Participating bars throughout New Jersey will offer free soft drinks and other benefits to designated drivers who sign up for membership cards with the HERO Campaign online or at a HERO Night NJLBA event.

Officials say Uber will provide free rides up to $20 for first-time riders who sign up through the NJLBA, and will boost their efforts to increase the number of drivers available near bars at peak hours.

“We believe this partnership with Uber and the HERO Campaign is a major step forward in keeping our patrons safe,” said NJLBA President James Bennett of Sea Isle City, owner of La Costa Bar and Liquors and Lobster Loft Restaurant. “We also are committed to helping the HERO Campaign prevent drunk driving in John Elliott’s memory.”

Nearly 1,300 Uber driver-partners have signed up with the HERO Campaign and have provided more than 30,000 rides to bar patrons around the state since October, officials say.

“This partnership is about creating an environment that allows people in New Jersey to celebrate responsibly with the knowledge that they can always get a safe ride and a designated driver at the tap of a button,” said Ana Mahony, General Manager for Uber New Jersey, “Uber is proud to be working with the HERO Campaign and NJLBA to keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday season.”