Those red ribbons you'll see on cars over the next week are a reminder not to drink and drive. 65,000 of them are being handed out to drivers by the NY State Thruway Authority and MADD -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

New York State Thruway Authority toll collectors are handing out the ribbons this weekend at: Exit 15 (Woodbury); Exit 17 (Newburgh); Exit 24 (Albany); Exit B3 (Canaan, Mass Pike); Exit 34A (Syracuse); Exit 36 (Watertown, Binghamton); Exit 39 (Syracuse, I-690); Exit 46 (Rochester, Corning); and Exit 55 (Lackawanna). Ribbons will also be available at the Thruway’s Travel Plazas.

"As New York’s premier superhighway, it is our responsibility to ensure that our customers have the safest possible experience," said Thruway Authority Chairman Howard P. Milstein in a statement. “Driving under the influence is one of the primary dangers facing motorists nationwide and all efforts must be made to prevent this perilous behavior. On behalf of the Thruway, I thank MADD for developing such a worthwhile campaign and their vigilance in helping keep our roads safe."

Nationwide Insurance is the National Presenting Sponsor for MADD’s red ribbon campaign.

The Thruway and MADD want to give a special thanks to Albany County STOP-DWI, students at Battenkill Community Services, Colonie Youth Court, Mohonasen Middle & High Schools, Rehabilitation Support Services and Wildwood Programs, as well as all of the MADD volunteers who assembled the ribbons and cards for this year’s campaign.

"The New York State Thruway is widely regarded as one of America’s safest highways, and last year being the safest year in our nearly six-decade history," said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. "We are proud to partner with MADD for this annual campaign to encourage drivers everywhere to keep themselves and other motorists safe by not drinking and driving."

"The New York State Police are committed to making our roads safe for all motorists. We are proud supporters of MADD and the annual anti-DWI initiative," said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. "This campaign is about making the right choice not only during the holiday season, but year round. Any way we can raise awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving will help make more people think twice before engaging in this dangerous and often deadly behavior. Together with MADD and our partners at the Thruway Authority, we hope all motorists travel safely this holiday season."

"To honor lives lost and those injured as a result of impaired driving, we should do all that we can to save other families from enduring this pain," said Michele Fonda, MADD spokeswoman. "MADD is pleased to have the continued support of the Thruway Authority and recommends planning ahead for a safe way home – designating a non-drinking driver before drinking begins, hosting parties responsibly, and providing alternate transportation or accommodations for those who have been drinking."

The foot-long red ribbons, a symbol chosen by MADD in 1986, are meant to be displayed on motorist’ vehicles to raise public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and encourage all to take the pledge to drive safe, sober, and buckled up.

The red ribbon campaign is MADD’s longest running and most visible public awareness project. In addition to participating in the ribbon handout, the Thruway Authority will be posting MADD’s reminder to "Drive Safely, Stay Sober" on message boards throughout the Thruway system from Friday, December 27 to Thursday, January 2, 2014.

MADD was established in 1980 to advocate safe driving. The national organization has more than 600 affiliates nationwide, with 18 chapters throughout New York State. MADD focuses on finding effective solutions to the problems of drunk driving and underage drinking, as well as supporting those who have suffered from the consequences of both.

MADD also expresses support for law enforcement crackdown efforts, particularly during the holiday season when the number of alcohol-related crashes rises. New York State Police Troop T will be conducting specialized patrols and a fixed checkpoint in undisclosed locations along the Thruway during the holiday period.

For more information about MADD, please see the MADD website here.