New research from THINK!, commissioned on the 50th anniversary of the first drink drive advertising campaign, shows how much attitudes towards drink driving have changed in the last half century.
In a survey of 2,000 people, 91% of respondents agreed drink driving is unacceptable and 92% said they would feel ashamed if they were caught drinking and driving.
By comparison, back in 1979 more than half of male drivers and nearly two thirds of young male drivers admitted drink driving on a weekly basis.
The shift in attitudes is a stark contrast to the first drink drive public information film in 1964, which was set in an office Christmas party. The advert politely reminded people that “four single whiskeys and the risk of accident can be twice as great… If he’s been drinking, don’t let him drive.”
THINK! says a combination of road safety campaigning and better enforcement has led to road deaths falling from 1,640 in 1967 to 230 in 2012.
To mark the 50th anniversary, THINK! has produced a new advert to recognise the progress that’s been made, while reminding people that the dangers of drink driving are still as real as they have always been.
The new ad juxtaposes Kool and the Gang’s cheery ‘Celebration’ song with a dramatic crash scene and the sequence of events that follow, reminding people that there are still too many people being killed on our roads by drink drivers.
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: "The change in attitudes to drink driving over the last 50 years is a huge success story. It is hard to imagine now how shocking and ground-breaking the first drink drive campaigns were when they launched. Clearly THINK! has had a significant impact.
"Most of us understand drink driving wrecks lives but there is further to go. In 2012, 230 people were killed in drink driving accidents. This makes the THINK! campaign as relevant as ever."
In the recent THINK! survey, 88% of respondents said that they would think badly of someone who drinks and drives and almost half (45%) said they would prefer to tell their partner they watch pornography than confess to being caught drink driving.
Shaun Helman, head of transport psychology at the Transport Research Laboratory, said: “Compared with 50 years ago, drink-driving is now very much minority behaviour. This change has been achieved through firm laws, highly visible enforcement, and a sea-change in public attitudes; drink driving is now frowned upon by the vast majority of people.
“No one working in road safety is complacent though; through a commitment to catching drink-drivers, and through harnessing peer pressure, we will continue to reinforce the message that drink driving is completely unacceptable.”