the poster promoting the "Drug Driving: Your Eyes Will Give You Away" campaign features a bloodshot eye

The Eyes Have It in New UK Campaign

"Drug Driving: Your Eyes Will Give You Away" is the theme of a $3.8 million campaign launched Monday by the UK Department of Transport to crack down on drivers who use drugs before getting behind the wheel.

"Drug Driving: Your Eyes Will Give You Away" is the theme of a $3.8 million campaign launched Monday by the UK Department of Transport to crack down on drivers who use drugs before getting behind the wheel. The campaign is part of the THINK! Strategy, an effort by the British government to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 40 percent overall and 50 percent for children by the year 2010, versus 1994-98 numbers, by way of enforcement, engineering improvements, and modifying motorists' behavior.

"While linking drug use to accidents is difficult, figures suggest that 51 people died in 2006 where drugs were believed to be a contributory factor," the agency's announcement stated. "We've been promoting 'Don't drug drive' messages since 2003, with activity centered around Christmas and summer campaigns. The Christmas campaign is planned to raise awareness of the dangers of drug driving among clubbers, while the summer campaigns focused on festivals. There's clear evidence that our summer campaigns have stimulated conversation about drug driving among the target audience -- 53 percent of people surveyed in 2006 remembered the 'Don't do drugs and drive' message two weeks after having seen it. There has also been an increase in those who completely agree that it is dangerous to drive after taking a class A drug, from 74 percent in 2005 to 93 percent in 2006."

The stated goals of THINK! are:

  • To contribute to achieving the targets for road casualty reduction by year 2010, as set out in the government's policy strategy document "Tomorrow's roads: safer for everyone."
  • To use all the marketing tools available to us to get across road safety messages effectively and meaningfully.
  • To draw together a wide range of road safety messages under a single concept.
  • To get across specific advice to road users while impressing on all the need to THINK! while using the road.
  • To help to stimulate a year round presence under a new road safety brand.
  • To encourage new partnerships to associate with the brand in promoting road safety.

"This is a long-overdue campaign to tackle one of the biggest killers on our roads," said Mary Williams, OBE, chief executive of Brake, the British road safety charity. "The government has been aware for years of the significant prevalence of drug driving and its devastating effects. Brake is calling on the government to stop dragging its heels and build upon this campaign by urgently approving roadside testing devices to catch drug drivers and implementing their use across all police forces in random tests of drivers at targeted times such as late at night near clubs." She cited a Transport Research Laboratory study in 2001 (of 533 dead drivers and 246 motorcycle riders) showingd at least one impairing prescription or illegal drug in 22.9 percent of drivers and 20.3 percent of riders.

Drunk and drug driving are the focus of this year's Road Safety Week, Nov. 23-29, a Brake initiative that has the theme "Not a drop, Not a drag -- Stay Sober, Save Lives" this year.

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