Yesterday, as I drove around going about my day-to-day business, I was listening to local radio.
Several times, I heard the new anti-drink driving campaign and shook my head in frustration.
The focus of the advert is highlighting all of the ways that a drink driver will be punished, and especially how they will be punished financially… with Court fines, legal expenses, increased insurance and other things.
Scary stuff, hey.
I’m sure some people who hear this and who were planning on drink driving that day will realise the error of their ways and order a taxi instead.
But what this campaign completely ignores is that for the vast majority of people charged with drink driving, it isn’t a deliberate decision. Listening to some advert about financial punishment while they are sober can’t talk them out of a decision they would never consciously make.
There are options for much better radio campaigns, especially given the power of that medium as so many people will hear the message while driving.
So, what would work better?
Well, to tackle drink driving you have to understand the situations that cause people to be charged with drink driving.
Generally, people fall into two camps – they are either only slightly over the legal limit and don’t realise they are, so choose to drive believing they are under the limit, or they are very high over the limit and, as such, their judgement is impaired and they make a decision to drive, which they would never do when thinking rationally.
For the people in the second group, campaigns will have little effect as they never set out to drink drive and only take that decision when they are so over the limit that they are not thinking clearly. Often, these people will be out for the night, drink a huge amount, get a taxi home as planned, and then, once at home, make a completely unnecessary trip in their car.
The people in the first group, however, are much easier to help. For them, education is key. No campaign about the consequences of drink driving will have a huge effect as they genuinely believe when they set off to drive that they are under the limit. For these people, educational campaigns – not scare tactics – are needed. How many drinks put you over the limit? How long does a unit of alcohol stay in your system? What time did they stop drinking last night, before setting off early to drive to work the next day?
The media likes to portray drink drivers as being reckless individuals who set out at the start of the night aiming to get wasted and then drive home. The reality is very different.
I can’t think of a single client I have helped who would have avoided being charged with drink driving if only they had heard this campaign about the expenses they would incur. You cannot scare someone out of a decision they never rationally make – no matter how big the subsequent bill will be for them.
Instead of talking money (because, seriously, for a client convicted of this charge, the costs are very rarely their main concern), it’s time the government stopped demonising drink drivers and tried to understand them. Only then can any campaign be effective.
And, until such a campaign is released, me and my team remain committed to helping anyone charged with drink driving or any other motoring offence. We will listen to your side of the story without judging you, and will guide you through the procedure to obtain the best outcome for your individual case and needs.
If you need help with a Drink or drug driving charge call us on 01623 397200