Facebook and Drunk Driving
The number of injuries and fatalities caused by intoxicated driving is truly staggering, whether examined at a local, regional, or national, level.
In the ongoing battle against drunk driving, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have formed, laws have been enacted, penalties have been intensified, and awareness campaigns have been implemented.
Now, in the age of social media, a new way to fight drunk driving, particularly repeat offenders, has been suggested in California — public shaming on Facebook.
Here is the original Fox 23 newscast on the subject from January 19 (please excuse the 15 second ad in the beginning), and as you’ll see, the suggested initiative had its share of opponents:
An article from the same day on TestCountry.com notes what may have prompted the idea:
[City Councilman Devin] Dwyer’s idea was said to have been spurred by complaints from city residents regarding plans by a local newspaper to stop the publishing of arrest information. Dwyer wrote: ‘Those residents and I believed that publishing the information may be a deterrent to future incidents of drunk driving in our city, and we wanted to find a way to continue making the information available to the public.’
Despite Dwyer’s creativity, the City Council voted the idea down 4 to 3. Kate Linthicum, a writer for LA Times, brings us a statement by one councilperson on the reasoning behind her vote:
City Councilwoman Connie Boardman said she appreciated the ‘creativity’ of Dwyer’s idea, but publishing the photos would be tantamount to public shaming.
‘Repeat drunk drivers, well they’re addicts, they’re alcoholics,’ Boardman said at Tuesday’s meeting. ‘And putting their picture on Facebook is not going to stop them from drinking, but what it will do is humiliate their parents and terribly embarrass their children.’
There is no doubt that we need to find a way to reduce the number of drunk drivers. Huntington Beach, CA, the point of origin for this story, is reported to have cited 274 alcohol-related accidents and 1,687 drunk-driving arrests in 2009. (Statistics on drunk driving in Colorado can be found on this page of the Alcohol Alert website.)
The number and severity of car accidents involving alcohol make this deadly earnest. While efforts like the one above may not be the right solution, the creativity of thought and willingness to leverage social media are both important aspects of finding the best deterrents.
Just about everyone out there has a friend or family member who has been involved in an accident in which alcohol was a factor, either on their part or that of the other driver. All too many of these involve fatalities.
Don’t drink and drive.