Ad Campaigns Reduce Drunk Driving

Ad Campaigns Against Drunk Driving May Be Effevtive

By Backy Ham, Science Writer

Health Behavior News Service

Newswise — A systematic review of ad campaigns against drunk
driving, published in the June issue of the American Journal of
Preventive Medicine, suggests these mass media campaigns can reduce
alcohol-related car crashes by 13 percent.

The review suggests that all of the campaigns were released to a large
audience over a long time period and were thoroughly tested before they
were aired, which may have contributed significantly to their success,
according to Randy Elder, Ph.D., of the Center for Disease Control and
Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and
Control and colleagues.

Most of the ads were aired in communities with relatively high levels
of law enforcement against drunk driving, leaving it unclear whether
“these campaigns might have had similar effects in a
setting where strong alcohol-impaired driving prevention activities were
not in place,†Elder and colleagues say.

“The studies reviewed here indicated that under
some conditions, well-executed mass media campaigns can contribute to a
reduction in alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes. They
also suggest that such campaigns are cost-saving,†they

Elder and colleagues analyzed costs and benefits for two of the
campaigns. One campaign cost $403,174 per month, but the estimated
savings from medical costs, job productivity losses, pain and suffering
and property damage were $8,324,532 per month. The cost-benefit analysis
for the second campaign revealed similar savings.

The researchers combed through the academic literature looking for
studies on effective anti-drunk driving campaigns published before 2002.
They chose eight studies that measured changes in alcohol-related crash
rates or blood alcohol concentration among drivers for their

Three of the campaigns emphasized the legal consequences of drunk
driving, while the other five focused on the negative social and health
aspects of drunk driving. The different approaches were equally
effective, the researchers found.

One study indicated that paid ads, which usually received more airplay
and reached a wider audience, were more effective at reducing drunk
driving incidents than public service ads. In Kansas, for example, the
same campaign was used in paid and public service ads in different
cities. The public service ads received half as much exposure and had
about half as much effect on alcohol-related crash rates.

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