A Souvenir From Back When Drunk Driving Was Funny

Generally, drunk driving is seen as nothing to laugh about. It was not always so. In from the time cars went mainstream to the 1960s drunk driving was something of an underground sport. Illegal to be sure, but many motorists thought having a few drinks and weaving home to be a venial sin at worst. Police would very often send a drunk driver home with a warning, not bothering with an arrest unless property or people were damaged. Despite scare films and public service warnings, driving under the influence was the stuff of eye rolls, and the subject of jokes and comedy routines.

The result was a true American carnage, with the per capita road deaths reaching a peak in 1969. Hard to say how many of those would have been caused by alcohol, but half would be a conservative estimate. Still, it was a humorous subject as long as you didn’t get hit.

drunk driving post card

This post card dates from the late 1950s, one of several that Petley Studios, an Arizona post card company, did on the same theme. Things have changed a lot since then. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) started a movement that led to greater awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, and more important, the fact that it was preventable.

Just as drunk driving has become less popular in the last four decades, so has it become less a topic for humor. That’s fine with us. Let’s work to eliminate drunk driving altogether, so people will one day wonder just what was so funny.