92% of people in the North West feel ashamed to drink and drive as 50th anniversary THINK! Campaign

Published on: Friday, 07-November-2014

On the 50th anniversary of the first public information film, new research from THINK! shows how much attitudes have changed to drink driving in the last half century.

Of those surveyed1, 93% in the North West agreed drink driving was unacceptable and 92% would feel ashamed if they were caught drinking and driving. This compares to over half of male drivers and nearly two thirds of young male drivers who admitted drink driving on a weekly basis in 19792.

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.” 

Through a combination of road safety campaigning and better enforcement, road deaths due to drink driving have fallen from 1,640 in 1967 to 230 deaths in 2012. 3

However in 2012 the number of people convicted for driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs4 remains significant; Greater Manchester (3042), Lancashire (1594), Cheshire (1390) and Merseyside (1259). Furthermore there were 20 deaths due to drink driving in the North West.

Today, the government is sending out a clear message there is still a long way to go. A new advert, launching today, reminds people that one death on our roads is too many.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin 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 – 230 too many. This makes the THINK! campaign as relevant as ever.”

Shaun Helman, Head of Transport Psychology at the Transport Research Laboratory says:

'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.”

Visit THINK! website.

1 Populus research amongst 2000 respondents, 29th-31st August 2014
2 1979 is the first year for which accurate records of drink drive attitudes, behaviour and KSIs are available
3 On 9 October 1967 legislation came into effect that made it an offence to drive with over 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and introduced breath testing.