Drunk Driving Prevention

Drunk driving is one of the most frequently committed crimes in the United States, killing someone approximately every 48 minutes. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, representing nearly 32% of all traffic fatalities. Although significant progress has been made since 1983 when the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first partnered on anti-drinking and driving messaging, there is still a lot of work to be done on this issue.

Research shows that far too many people justify that they can drive after drinking because they feel “just buzzed.” The buzzed driver is one who drinks and drives, but does not consider him or herself a hazard on the roadway or a drunk driver because “only a few” drinks are consumed. The campaign educates people that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”.

Campaign Objective: To inspire recognition of the consequences and dangers of buzzed driving and subsequently motivate people to stop driving buzzed.

Target Audience: People who drink and drive yet don’t consider themselves to be hazards on the roadways or a drunk driver.

  • primarily made up of males ages 21 – 34, well-meaning “average Joes” who don’t mean any harm but continue to drink and drive, either feeling invincible or just unrealistically optimistic about the control they have over their lives
  • also comprised of women ages 21 – 44, who are going out socially for a drink and most often try to moderate their drinking so they can drive home

Donated Media: Since the first Drunk Driving Prevention messages launched in 1983, the campaign has received almost $1.4 billion in donated media. Since the “Buzzed” campaign launched in 2005, the campaign has received over $367 million in donated media through the first quarter of 2011.

Measurable Results:
Tracking surveys are used to gauge the campaign’s effectiveness and impact over time by trending awareness, attitudes and behaviors among the target audience nationwide. A benchmark tracking survey was fielded in December 2005 of adults age 21+, including an oversample of men ages 21-35 years old. Follow-up surveys have since been fielded every January, and have shown an increase of adults 21+ who are refraining from drinking and driving. The most recent results in January 2011 demonstrated:

  • Awarenessof the campaign: With more than one-half of adults ages 21+ (49%) and nearly 6 in 10 men ages 21-35 (56%) familiar with the campaign, the campaign’s awareness level is substantially stronger than any other campaign currently on the Ad Council docket (approximately 50 campaigns), due in largepart to strong donated media support and media partnerships, and a strong suite of creative assets.
  • Opinion ofthe campaign: Of those aware of the campaign, approximately 9 in 10 men age 21-35 (92%) called the advertising extremely/very/somewhat effective. 
  • Importance of the issue: There was a significant increase in the proportion of men age 21-35 who called themselves “extremely concerned” about the issue of drunk driving, from 22% in 2005 to 27% in 2011. 
  • Behaviors over the holiday season: Every January for the past five years - immediately following the Project Roadblock1 push - an increasing number of adults 21+ report that within the past month they have refrained from driving after drinking, from 9% in January 2006 to 13% in January 2011. The growth was similar among men 21-35, from 17% to 25%.

While the Ad Council cannot claim the campaign as the sole driver of these behaviors, it is likely that it played a large role, due to the campaign’s vast reach and recognition among the target audience.

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