Have Drink Driving Campaigns Had a Positive Impact?

Drink driving is always an emotive subject and over the years there have been numerous campaigns designed and put in place as a method of educating drivers. Here in the UK drink driving campaigns are co-ordinated by the Department for Transport’s THINK! Initiative.

The clear and concise communication delivered by each campaign has helped to enlighten drivers about the dangers of taking to the road after consuming alcohol. The first campaign was launched back in 1979 and consequent campaigns have served to highlight the consequences and damning outcomes of driving whilst over the limit.

The campaigns have proved successful and it is widely believed that many lives have been saved by persuading people to understand that drink driving is not only illegal, but also potentially deadly. The drink driving statistics speak for themselves, in 1979, 1640 people were killed in accidents related to drink driving, by 2014 this figure had decreased to 240, still too many – but a huge step in the right direction.

Promotions have sometimes been shocking, TV advertisements showing a tragic death caused by a person who has casually decided to have just one more beer before climbing in his car. These types of adverts are designed to provoke a reaction and they clearly communicate that drink driving is not an issue that should be shied away from. Drink-driving advertisements promote the consequences of drink-driving and the fact that it can result in injury or death for the victim and a very steep penalty for the perpetrator.

Campaigns are sometimes targeted at specific groups and in 2007 The ‘Personal Consequences’ drink drive campaign was launched. This was aimed in particular at young male drivers age 17 to 29 and was designed with the aim of persuading these drivers not to drink and drive. The campaign aimed to highlight the danger of assuming that the driver would always be absolutely fine to drive after consuming two drinks. It was also created to strengthen the stigma and dishonour associated with being apprehended while drunk behind the wheel.

The threat of being treated like criminal seemed to hit home and the target audience (young males) started to understand that drink driving charges and a drink driving conviction could impact on their career and ability to get a job. There were financial implications too and the idea of having to pay a hefty fine was not at all attractive.

The UK drink driving law is very clear, causing death while driving under the influence of drink or drugs carries a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years. The severe judicial implications are often communicated through campaigns (along with the impact of drink driving on the victims). The threat of fines, lost licenses and even a prison sentence does tend to make people think about their actions. There has been some discussion in regards to making UK drink driving law stricter, by reducing the consumption limit, but so far there have been no changes to the limits currently in place.