A salute to the dry driver

On 14 December 2015 the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads launched our Christmas road safety campaign, dry drivers, we salute you.

Despite huge changes in attitudes to drinking and driving in past decades, we know from our research that drink driving is still a factor in 1 in 5 fatalities on Queensland roads, and nearly 1 in 10 serious casualties.

This campaign offers a practical, simple solution to avoid drinking and driving – the designated, or dry driver. This is a concept which is raised repeatedly in our discussions with the community about how to stem the road toll.

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Our research shows that many people who drink and drive say they do so because of the overwhelming desire to get home.

Decisions are often made at the worst possible time, when drivers are already drunk, but convince themselves that they are ‘right to drive’.

For this reason the campaign encourages Queenslanders to plan their transport needs before they start drinking.

The ads mimic the anthemic feel of the beer ads which proliferate at this time of year on our televisions, and reposition the dry driver as a hero who saves his mates from awkward interactions, bad dancing and dodgy kebabs, while getting them home safe, and having fun along the way.

With men accounting for almost 86% of drink drivers involved in fatal crashes, the ad purposefully focusses on blokey mateship – also mimicking beer ad themes.

The light-hearted approach to the very serious issue of drink driving is an evidence-based attempt to make it OK to discuss the issue of having a dry driver before you head out on the town – something that families and friends tell us can be a hard conversation to initiate.

The ads celebrate the designated driver, the one who does the right thing and keeps his eye on his mates, stops you from acting like a tool, and cares about their mates’ safety. They are laidback, a good guy and a good friend, but also having fun.

An integrated mix of advertising including television, cinema, radio promotion, online and outdoor is being supported by social media and a range of interactive activities. A Facebook meme is also gaining support.

Other alternatives to drinking and driving, such as using public transport or staying the night, will be promoted through social media and other free channels.

While drink driving is only one of the factors driving the road toll, it is one where campaigns focussed on changing behaviour can have a significant impact.