To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Colorado Department of Transportation is introducing a new public service announcement in both English and Spanish. It features the Denver-based rock en tu idioma band, iZCALLi, with lead singer, guitarist, and Colorado resident Miguel Aviña.
In a CDOT press release, Miguel Aviña says:
[…] many people have destroyed their lives driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and if you don’t think it can happen to you, you’re wrong! Behind every drunk driving statistic is a person who was someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle.
iZCALLi (the name of Aviña’s home town on the outskirts of Mexico City), means rebirth in Nahuatl, Aviña says in an article by Jef Otte in Westword. The band, which includes Miguel’s sister, Brenda, and Luiggy Ramirez on drums, is teaming up with CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol to raise awareness among younger Hispanic drivers in Colorado about the hazards of drinking and driving. iZCALLi is known for addressing the problem with their audiences at the end of their shows.
Colorado’s Drinking and Driving Problem
Demographics show that Hispanics in Colorado are an important target audience for anti-DUI messages because of age. A 2015 CDOT survey found that 70 percent of young men, ages 21-35, think it’s safe to drive after having two or three drinks. Hispanics, who make up more than 21 percent of Colorado’s population, have a median age of 27, as compared to non-Hispanic whites in the state, whose median age is 40.
False Sense of Security
A person who is driving while impaired is 400 percent more likely to have a crash, said CDOT Traffic Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole, adding that public awareness campaigns need to challenge the false sense of security too many people have concerning drinking and driving.
On iZCALLi’s Facebook page, Aviña thanks CDOT and Hispanidad (a Denver marketing agency) for making it possible to deliver the message that it’s great to party, but that no one should drink and drive. You can see, download, and share the Spanish language version of the PSA here and the English version of the PSA here.
Message Not Getting Through
A 2015 article in the Houston Chronicle details the challenge of getting young Latinos to hear and heed the message to avoid drinking and driving. The piece, by Dug Begley and Olivia P. Tallet, says that messages about the dangers of drinking and driving have not stopped the risky behavior of young Hispanic men in Texas.
Experts in that state said that although there has been some reduction in DUI fatalities since 1980, the problem might be that the messages have not been translated or culturally adapted to Hispanics. Latino activists and community leaders said the best approach might be peer-to-peer campaigns, rather than having adults convey messages to young people.
The Chronicle article says drinking habits do not appear to explain the disparity between the percentage of Hispanics who are arrested for DUI as compared with other population groups. The writers quote a Texas lawyer born to Mexican immigrant parents, who said many families give their children beer as children. He said his dad told him as a boy that that is what men do.