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How Christmas campaigns are helping to end drink driving

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‘The collective “we” are dumbfounded that people still drive drunk.’ So says Helen Mirren in the anti-drink driving campaign that you may have seen on television recently. She goes on to lambast those who do it as ‘a short-sighted, utterly useless human form of pollution.’ Go, Helen!


Such adverts have become a Christmas tradition. The first was released by the Department for Transport back in 1964. It’s certainly a product of its times. It begins by explaining, in a jaunty tone, some of the science behind drink driving: ‘Four single whiskies and the risk of accident can be twice as great!’ Then it implores women not to ask men to drink and drive.

We’ve come a long way since then. THINK! was established in 2000, and Christmas campaigns are now delivered under its banner. Many of these have been hard-hitting. Who can forget the one from ten years ago in which a car crash appears to take place within the confines of a pub?

This year’s THINK! campaign is, like the Mirren advert, a little more light-hearted – but nonetheless powerful. It features daily social media updates targeted at the group most likely to drink drive: young men aged 25 to 34. And it effectively asks of them: would you rather miss out on a drink or on the rest of your life?

A steep decline in drink driving deaths

Although correlation isn’t necessarily causation, these adverts, have surely had a positive effect. In 1979, the first year on record, there were 19,470 drink driving accidents killing 1,640 people. Now, according to the latest Government statistics, the number of accidents has reduced to 5,770 – and, as our graph below shows, the number of deaths has plummeted too. This is one of the greatest road safety success stories to occur in any country at any time.

But there’s still much more to do. Even now, more than 200 people are killed every year by drink driving and another 1,100 are seriously injured. These numbers are tragic in themselves, but they are also tragic because they were totally avoidable. Drink driving simply shouldn’t happen.

It’s this belief that underpins Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions’ own campaign this Christmas. We’d like you to help us celebrate some of the heroes of the season – designated drivers – and potentially win a F1 prize in the process. Take part in the competition here, and have a safe and happy Christmas!

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