The UK Department for Transport’s airing it’s THINK! drink drive advert again. It’s good, but is it focusing on the right area?.

Ahead of tonight’s TV airing Department for Transport I picked up a promo tweet (below):


The ad (playable below) is a great example of collapsing consequences of an action into a compressed time frame.

Think! Drink drive advert

[br]Great because we tend to ‘push off’ consideration of events construed in a distal dimension, and the perception of drink driving events are distal in all four dimensions; not (likely to be) me, not (likely to be) here, not now (the consequences of being caught), and not clear (exactly what the penalty is).

[br]The actor – and the script – pulls all these ‘close’. It’s good; In fact the actor’s great. But…

[br]We talked about Charles K Atkin’s ‘Mass Communication Effects on Drinking and Driving’ before in relation to norms and perception (Mirror mirror in the wall). We know that drink drivers overestimate the statistical risks of both crashes and police stops. They do this by quite a bit (perception of 1:100 versus reality of 1:2000).

[br]So the perception of being caught is already thought – incorrectly – to be high. Making an ad, and the consequences described, seem more likely equals shifting a perception that already starts out in non-drink driving’s favour. We’re pushing at an open door.

[br]Is there any other aspect of drink driving that could have a greater effect? Social approval might help. It’s skewed the wrong way.

” . . . drinkers underestimate the degree of social disapproval of drunk drunk driving (fully two-fifths believe that others excuse drunk driving, while just 5 percent of the public is actually tolerant) . . . “

[br]Generally we underestimate disapproval; perceived behaviour is different to the actual average behaviour. Using overt communication, such as TV ads, we could ‘pick at that scab’ with the possibility of changing behaviour more fully.

[br]THINK! provides road safety information for road users. Our aim is to encourage safer behaviour to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year. For more information visit the website.

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• Oliver (LinkedIn) is author of the behavioural communication book Inspiring Sustainable Behaviour: 19 Ways To Ask For Change published by Routledge, available in most countries.
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