The Message to Drinkers with Car Keys: “Probably Okay” Isn’t Okay

warning-sign-in-barThey’re calling it Project Roadblock.

What’s being blocked is that dangerous activity that claims lives every holiday season: buzzed driving.

It used to be that drunk driving was the culprit. PSAs showed a bleary-eyed, out-of-control  driver who could barely walk and whom everyone knew was seconds away from a fearsome crash.

We know that it’s often the buzzed driver who’s the problem. He thinks he’s okay to drive, but he’s wrong.  A PSA is going out to TV stations in 10 states that racked up half the impaired driving fatalities last year: Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Illinois, and South Carolina. You can view the PSA here.

The Project Roadblock ad reflects a change that’s come over messages like this in recent years. It centers on the mindset of the driver, his overconfidence, and the moment of decision. Ultimately, every drunk driving incident is the result of one mistaken decision, based on the false belief that one is “okay to drive.”

What causes that belief? Why does someone who is clearly impaired – who is thinking slowly, less than alert, slow to react to circumstances, and clouded in judgement – still of the opinion that he or she can drive a vehicle? It’s a mystery.

If people approached the question rationally, they would realize that the risks involved – not just crashes, death and injury but also arrest, fines, imprisonment, ignition interlock requirement and probation – are not worth saving the taxi fare home. But people aren’t rational.

So we need roadblocks. And we need Project Roadblock. Unfortunately, every bar does not have a “Warning Sign” person to grab every drinker has he or she gets up and ponders the drive home.

But we have PSAs. And we hope we have good friends to act as roadblocks. Please be one this holiday season. Watch for the warning signs, and keep a friend from driving home buzzed.