Press release

92% of people feel ashamed to drink and drive as 50th anniversary THINK! campaign is launched

Massive change in attitude to drink driving since THINK! campaign launched 50 years ago.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Think! 50 year anniversary logo

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 surveyed, 91% agreed drink driving was unacceptable and 92% of people said they 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 1979.

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 “4 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. Today, the government is sending out a clear message there is still a long way to go. The new advert reminds people that 1 death on our roads is too many.

Watch the the 50th anniversary Think! advert.

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.

Today, over 88% of people say that they would think badly of someone who drinks and drives and almost half of respondents say they would prefer to tell their partner they watch pornography regularly than confess to being caught drink driving (45%). The survey also showed that (61%) would rather reveal their internet search history to their employer than admit to a drink drive conviction, with 24% rather tell their partner they’ve had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

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.

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Published 7 November 2014