In the 1960s, as a boy still at home with my parents, I started to see early road safety messages on British television, and key among these were film clips about not drinking alcohol and then driving.
The following decade, I joined the police — first in a three-year cadetship in which college played a major role, then as an officer. And during those early police years, I started to more fully understand the tragic devastation caused by people who drink alcohol before driving.
The video above is from 1978, my second year on Traffic Patrol
Over the years, I certainly dealt with my supposedly ‘fair share’ of the dead or injured victims, and arrested plenty offenders, but there was absolutely nothing ‘fair’ about it.
You are not going to read the words “too much alcohol” anywhere in my comments because the effects begin — albeit in a small way — with the first mouthful and get progressively worse from that point onwards. And the most insidious effect is that once people have had their first drink, it relaxes them somewhat then starts to affect judgement, after which refusing the next drink can become progressively less likely.
Throughout my adult life, the televised UK messages — PSAs in American terminology — have become broader and more imaginative, but also tougher, neither of which is a bad thing. The video below is sad, and hurts at the end, but none-the-less it does celebrate a major success in cutting the number of alcohol-related crash deaths by a massive 86 percent (and slashing the ‘rate’ even more than that), a big proportion of which success was due to changes in public perception by the clever, targeted use of such videos, supported of course with firm enforcement and hefty punishments.
So where is this all heading?
Outside Britain, another major player to pick up and promote the ONLY good message of “Don’t Drink and Drive!” is the Danish beer maker Heineken. Not for them the bland call to “drink responsibly,” instead they have taken the moral high-ground with their message and very strongly put lives ahead of profits.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of the companies with vested interests in things which cause deaths and injuries on America’s roads and highways took this approach!