Drunk Driving Prevention (1983 - Present)
In 1983 the Ad Council and the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (under the U.S. Department of
Transportation - U.S. DOT) partnered to launch the Drunk Driving
Prevention campaign. Although society's permissive attitude
toward drinking and driving had recently begun to shift, many
Americans were still unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
At the time drunk drivers were responsible for 50% of automobile
fatalities and experts predicted that one out of every two
Americans would be involved in an alcohol-related traffic
accident in his or her lifetime.
The campaign, with its tagline, "Drinking
& Driving Can Kill A Friendship," was originally
designed to reach 16-24 year-olds, who accounted for 42% of
all fatal alcohol-related car crashes, and inspire personal
responsibility to prevent drinking and driving. The public
service advertisement (PSA), which emphasized the grave consequences
of drinking and driving with a depiction of two glasses crashing
into each other, won the 1984 classic CLIO award for best
overall ad campaign - commercial or public service. To date,
it is one of only a handful of PSAs to have been so honored
As the years passed, statistics showed that
the issue of drunk driving was approaching the forefront of
American consciousness. According to an April 1986 Roper poll,
62% of young Americans reported that they were now more conscious
of the dangers of drunk driving than they had been previously
and 34% refused to drink at all when they were planning to
drive. Additionally, the U.S. DOT reported a 25% decrease
in the number of drunk drivers killed in traffic accidents
between 1980 and 1990.
In 1990, new PSAs encouraging friends to intervene
in order to prevent a drunk person from getting behind the
wheel introduced the tagline, "Friends Don't Let Friends
Drive Drunk." This hard-hitting campaign was instrumental
in achieving a 10% decrease in alcohol-related fatalities
between 1990 and 1991 - the single largest one-year drop in
alcohol-related fatalities ever recorded. The tagline went
on to become the most recognized anti-drinking and driving
slogan in America. Beginning in 1994, the PSAs poignantly
illustrated the consequences of letting someone drink and
drive by featuring the stories, photographs and home videos
of real people who were killed by drunk drivers.
While drunk driving accidents still claimed
more than 17,000 lives yearly as of 1994, that figure had
decreased by 30% since the campaign began. In 1998, America
experienced its lowest number of alcohol-related fatalities
since the U.S. DOT began keeping records and at one point,
more than 68% of Americans exposed to the advertising had
taken action to prevent someone from driving drunk.
Michael Jackson was personally thanked by then-President
Ronald Reagan at a White House ceremony in 1985 for donating
his Grammy-award winning song "Beat It" for use
in Drunk Driving Prevention television and radio PSAs. Other
celebrities have also helped to bring attention to the problem
of drunk driving. PSAs created in conjunction with Recording
Artists, Actors, and Athletes Against Drunk Driving (RADD)
and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) featured
such talent as Aerosmith, Barry Bonds, Brian McKnight, Dennis
Franz, Faith Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shaquille O'Neil, Stevie
Wonder, and Tim McGraw.
Although alcohol-related traffic fatalities reached a low point in the late 1990s, the number of people killed by drunk drivers has been rising ever since. These statistics reminds us that our vigilance against drunk driving needs to be ongoing and that all of must take responsibility to use designated drivers and to keep those who have been drinking from getting behind the wheel.
View current PSAs:
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