THINK! team issues drug drive campaign briefing note

08.55 | 18 August 2009 |

This campaign briefing, issued by the THINK! team, provides background information about the new campaign and planned activity.
Campaign background
It is a general consensus that drink driving is socially unacceptable and dangerous, and the general public see drug driving in the same way; but despite this our research shows that drug users are not deterred from driving.

10% of male drivers admit to driving after taking illegal drugs, and one in five drivers killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug in their system.

Drug drivers do not think about the impairing effects and – because prosecutions are complex and thus much less frequent than for drink driving – believe they can get away with it. 

In fact, the penalties are the same as for drink driving (a minimum 12 month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, in some cases up to 6 months in prison, a criminal record and the endorsement remains on your licence for 11 years).

The campaign launched on Monday 17 August and features a TV advertisement, radio sponsorship, posters, festival sponsorship and on-line advertising. 

A second phase of the campaign, focussing on the effect of prescription drugs on driving and prompting users to ‘ask their pharmacist’, will be launched later in the summer. 

This will encourage consumers to ask about the effects their prescriptions and other medicines may have on driving, as well as raising awareness among health professionals.

Campaign strategy

The task for the communications is to:

•  Create noise around the issue of drug driving. Highlight the issue and spread the reality and the legal consequences of drug driving among friendship groups;
•  Get drug drivers to take their behaviour seriously – improve understanding of the legal implications and encourage use of alternative transport modes;
•  Deliver missing factual and legal information – dispel myths, the law is clear;
•  Use a tone of voice that resonates and is non-judgemental, ‘looking out for you’.

It is not the task of this campaign to tackle illegal drug dealing or possession, but rather to dissuade users from driving. 

The campaign risks rejection by the target audience if it comes across as a criticism of their choice and behaviour by an out of touch establishment.

There is room, however, for a campaign which clearly establishes drug driving as an issue in its own right, without it being confused with other anti-drug taking or anti-drink driving campaigns.

Target Audience
The primary audience is all recreational drug users (aged 18-35 years).

The secondary audience is the general public.

Creative idea

‘Eyes’ is the central creative theme developed in response to the involuntary effect which drugs have on the eyes. 

The concept was strongly endorsed in research as it engaged the target audience who recognised the behaviour in themselves. 

It highlights a well-known, credible effect of drugs and demonstrates how obvious this must be to the police – causing a reappraisal of the risk of getting caught.

The representation of the eyes reflects the effect of the drug. 

Key messages
Drug drivers need to know the reality of drug driving – it isn’t a mythical offence or a cautionary tale made up to spoil the fun of harmless partygoers and it is also not something that the police turn a blind eye to. 

• To be unfit to drive through drugs is an offence in its own right (it is distinct from offences like possession of illegal drugs or dangerous driving).
• Taking illegal drugs will impair your driving.
• The police can spot the signs that you’re using drugs, one of the many things that they look at are the eyes – ‘your eyes will give you away’.
• The police can arrest you at the roadside if they have any good reason to think you have been driving unfit through drugs.  They have roadside impairment tests which they may use to help them form an opinion about this, and they can require blood samples down at the police station.
• Many officers are trained in simple roadside assessments which involve, amongst other things, measuring pupil dilation.
• Drug drivers face serious penalties which are exactly the same as for drink driving – an automatic minimum 12 month ban, a fine of up to £5,000, in some cases up to 6 months in prison, a criminal record and the offence recorded on your licence for 11 years
• A serious criminal record like this is very tricky to explain to your boss – especially if you drive for work. Car insurance is very expensive for the future and you may not be able to rent a car or get an entry visa for some countries.
• Search for ‘drug drive’ online for more information.

Click here to download the full briefing sheet, which includes a media schedule.

Click here
for a copy of the TV advert and other campaign creative.

Or for further information about the campaign contact Laura Durham, team head: adult road safety.


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