New Mexico Anti Drunk Driving PSA Hits Home

Some anti drunk driving PSAs don’t try very hard. They press the obvious button, one we’ve had pressed a thousand times before: the horror and pain of a drunk driving collision.

We’ve seen the lights, the EMTs, the blood, the anguished faces of family, the wheels of the gurney rushing into the operating room. And it’s all true – that does happen. We get the point – avoiding the carnage on the road is a great reason not to drink and drive.

Nevertheless, showing the same scary tropes again and again gets less effective over time. The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) fired up the creative talents at ENDWI, the dedicated campaign to end drunk driving in New Mexico, to find a different way of portraying the torment that impaired driving brings in to people’s lives. Here it is:

Verdict: it works. The kids-eye-view is compelling and not at all sentimental. Instead of the crash and the ambulances, the scene has an all-too-familiar ending: arrest, and the promise of much heartache for months and years to come, as the family has to overcome the shame and the cost of the father’s terrible decision. In particular, the spot highlights the effect of a parent’s DWI arrest on innocent kids.

The ENDWI program is just one piece of evidence that New Mexico is serious about reducing deaths due to drunk driving. In the past Governor Susana Martinez has boosted saturation patrols and stumped for tougher penalties for drunk drivers. She also pressed for a program – a successful one – to round up DWI fugitives. And there is proof that the measures work: despite a nationwide jump in road deaths in 2015, alcohol-related road fatalities fell over 16% in New Mexico.

Can a good set of PSAs take credit for the lives saved? Perhaps not. But they’re evidence that NMDOT is thinking hard, and thinking creatively, about solutions to drunk driving in New Mexico.