April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and this is a good time to reflect on one of the worst epidemics that continues to plague the globe: drinking and driving.
Alcohol-related car accidents result in over 10,000 deaths a year and over 100,000 injuries in this country alone. What makes these statistics truly tragic is that every single one of these outcomes could have been avoided if the driver had made the responsible decision not to get behind the wheel. Just imagine how many lives could be saved in the future if every single driver in the U.S. understood the potential consequences of drinking and driving and actually took that information to heart. It doesn’t matter whether they refrain from driving under the influence in order to protect themselves or in order to protect others, if everyone refused to put themselves in a DUI situation, millions of people would be better off.
Unfortunately, after decades of campaigns and education, some drivers are still not deterred from making poor decisions when it comes to alcohol and the road. However, recent government tactics, personal public confessions, and new campaign directions may be showing promise in reaching those who have failed to realize how important driving sobriety truly is.
Popular Global DUI Deterrents
Over the past twenty years, drunk driving campaigns have done their best to educate drivers and drinkers alike on the dangers of losing driving focus while intoxicated. Although these campaigns have been effective by decreasing DUI accidents by a significant amount (over 50%), the current generation of drivers needs more than a billboard telling them drinking and driving is bad. Quite frankly, they need incentives and fear to get them motivated. Luckily, the following tactics provide just that:
- Confessions. In August of 2013, Matthew Cordle posted an online video to YouTube in which he confessed to killing a 61-year old man in a hit-and-run as a result of his driving while under the influence of alcohol. Cordle said he wanted to convince others not to drink and drive as it can have life-altering effects for more than just yourself. The video quickly went viral and prompted the #saveyourvictim campaign. encouraging others to post their own confessions, stories, and advice to would-be drunk drivers.
- Encouragement. In order to encourage people to use public transportation rather than drive drunk, an alcohol company installed custom turnstiles in subways during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. These turnstiles allowed attendees to use empty beer cans as payment for their train ride. Incentives like a free ride home can go a long way with partiers, especially when they don’t have the funds to call for a cab.
- Public service announcements. London’s Department for Transport created a campaign that used a bar’s bathroom mirror to show the horror involved during a DUI crash. The campaign’s video shows terrified drinkers jumping away from the sink when a bloody face explodes through the mirror, simulating a pedestrian crashing into a drunk driver’s windshield. Further PSAs have been created using humor, fear, guilt, and sadness to help drinkers truly understand—on a subconscious level—what they risk when they drink and drive.
- Punishment. Yakima, Washington, recently started enforcing a state law that allows for vehicles belonging to habitual drunk drivers to be confiscated by law enforcement. The police can keep and even sell vehicles that belong to repeat DUI offenders as long as the owner has been convicted at least twice of a DUI. Other jurisdictions have also begun to enforce DUI laws with more vigor in order to deter young drivers from making a habit of drinking and driving.
Education or Deterrence: Which Is More Effective?
We want to know your thoughts on how to improve drunk driving awareness. Should schools educate students at a young age to prevent poor behavior later in life? Should campaigns be more forceful in encouraging awareness? Should law enforcement take charge and create stricter punishments for abusers? What are your thoughts?
In the comment section provided on this page, let us know which tactics you think do the most good. We’re eager to get your perspective and discuss your concerns.