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National and Colorado Campaigns Stress Responsible Holiday Driving

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'Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving' CampaignA public service advertising (PSA) campaign launches throughout the U.S. on December 26 to remind those celebrating the holidays about the dangers of failing to designate a sober driver before going out drinking. And Colorado’s own high-visibility campaign called “Heat is on” will be out and about once again between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.

The national PSA campaign, “Project Roadblock,” is being presented by TVB (the not-for-profit trade association of America’s commercial broadcast television industry), along with the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — the eighth year these groups have joined forces to prevent car accidents during the holiday season.

TVB’s press release says:

‘Drunk driving is a preventable crime that can have tragic consequences for victims and offenders,’ said David L. Strickland, Administrator of the NHTSA. ‘We want to make sure everyone understands that buzzed driving is drunk driving — never get behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink.’

During the holiday week of December 26 through New Year’s Eve, one of the deadliest auto-fatality weeks of the year according to the NHTSA, local broadcast TV stations nationwide are encouraged to air the ‘Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving’ PSAs with a concentrated rotation of the on-air spots and online banner. Additionally, TV stations will also support the critical campaign message via text message, Facebook posts and tweets to their viewers.

The “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” campaign features two television public service announcements (PSAs) created pro bono by Merkley + Partners to target men between the ages of 21 and 34. The PSAs make the point that a single careless moment can be expensive as well as life-altering.

“The financial consequences of being stopped for driving buzzed can be around $10,000, including costs for posting bail, towing, fines, attorney fees and higher insurance premiums,” TVB reports.

Ad Council surveys conducted since January 2006 of adults over age 21 continue to show more of this group refraining from drinking and driving. The most recent results, in January 2011, found that nearly one half of adults over 21 and 56% of men between 21 and 35 were familiar with the campaign.

In addition, 47% of adults over 21 indicated an increased commitment to avoiding buzzed driving by getting a ride with a friend, or taking public transportation or a taxi — a percentage significantly higher than the 41% of those surveyed who answered that way in 2006. There has been similar growth on this measure among men ages 21-35, from 39% in 2006 to 47% in 2011.

The study also reports an increase in people over 21 who continued to refrain from driving after drinking beyond the holiday season, from 9% in January 2006 to 13% in January 2011. The increase in this behavior among men 21-35 rose from 17% in 2006 to 25% in 2011.

But most important, says the “Buzzed Driving” campaign, is the decrease in auto fatalities. In 2005, about 13,500 people in the U.S. died in accidents involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood-alcohol level of 08+. That number has declined every year, decreasing to 10,228 in 2010.

Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council, says:

Our research has shown that we need to reduce the target’s confidence level about driving after drinking, so that we can help decrease the number of fatalities and injuries linked to impaired driving. […] We are grateful to local television nationwide for coming together to donate their valuable inventory to support this critical safety message during this time of year.

In Colorado, as Lisa Collacott reports on, the state’s Department of Transportation “provides federal grants to law enforcement agencies to pay overtime for the extra patrols, according to Heather Halpape, a spokesperson for CDOT.” For most Colorado law enforcement agencies, those extra patrols begin at 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 and end at around 3 a.m. on Jan. 2. CDOT is working with Mothers against Drunk Driving, Regional Transportation District in Denver, Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, and Miller Coors to encourage responsible driving.

Collacott writes:

Additionally, according to CDOT, anyone with an Android or iPhone can download an R-U Buzzed application that will estimate one’s blood alcohol content and will even call a cab for you. Last year there were 825 DUI arrests for the year in the state of Colorado.

You can see a “Buzzed Driving” PSA from 2010 here:

Image by TVB (, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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