Young men are not influenced by advertisements that show horrific consequences of drink-driving until the message relates directly to them, says a report.
The UK Department of Transport says that advertisements about the dreadful consequences of drink-driving can influence young men not to sit behind the wheel while inebriated, only if such public announcements show that a minimum penalty of a one-year driving ban can damage an individual's own life.
The authorities have began a television advertising campaign focused on young men who are more than 10 times as likely to have a drink-drive crash than men aged over 30. But these public service announcements do not use any material that may be intended to shock audiences with images of death and serious injury from drink-driving.
In the advertisement, a young man asks for another pint from a barman. Immediately thereafter, the barman is morphed into a policeman, then a lawyer, the man's employer, and finally his girlfriend. Since the young man fails a breath test, he loses his licence for a year and has to pay a hefty fine. He also loses a job that depends on being able to drive, and probably his girlfriend.
The department's researchers tested responses to various drink-drive advertisements.
"We changed our tactics because we realised it was harder to appeal to their consciences. Young men also often think they are safe to drive after three or four pints and think images showing accidents don't apply to them. It was much more effective to show the consequences for them of getting a criminal conviction and a driving ban," Times Online quoted a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport as saying.
Rob Gifford of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety stressed the need to make people aware of the painful life they might have to lead should they lose their licences as a consequence of drink-driving.
"Most young men don't think that accidents will happen to them. They need to know that their own lives could become very painful if they lose their licences," Gifford said.