A Russian Anti-Drunk Driving Poster from the 1960s.

Your Hump-day Recess: The Soviet Battle Against Drunk Driving

Today’s anti-drunk driving artifact comes to us from the fascinating Soviet Art website. This poster, created by Evgeny Kazhdan (1922 – 1984), was one of countless reminders that the Soviet government gave its citizens about the dangers of drinking and driving.

The caption reads, “Two Roads.” The two symbolic directions are indicated by the bottles. The one on the left clearly leads to the hospital. The one on the right… the grave? Any Russian symbologists out there?

soviet anti-drunk driving poster

As we’ve noted before, Russia’s relationship with alcohol predates the Soviet Union, and has survived it.  Mikhail Gorbachev launched a serious campaign against alcohol abuse, asking, “Do you propose to build communism on vodka?” But his reforms didn’t take, and alcoholism remains a serious public health problem in Russia. In 2013 stricter drunk driving laws were passed, increasing penalties for driving under the influence. However, the previous zero-tolerance limit for blood alcohol was changed. Since 2013 the permissible limit is .035, less than half of the US’s .08 limit and comparable to many stricter countries around the world.

As we’ve seen in Wisconsin, fighting drunk driving is more difficult in places where drinking is embedded in the culture. And in Russia’s case it goes far beyond a love for camaraderie over a few glasses – it’s a societal disease that is still spreading. What turned the tide in the US was a societal shift: it became unfashionable to drink and drive as public outrage mounted over alcohol-related fatalities. And the work in the US is far from over.

Perhaps the Russian authorities will find a way to conquer its national demon, making these posters elegant reminders of a past in which drinking and driving were much more common.

Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, the world’s worst traffic jams, a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New ZealandVince and Larry, our favorite crash test dummies, some excellent Soviet anti-drunk-driving posters, a lesson on how buzzed driving can ruin your love life, South Australia to Drunk Drivers: Grow Up!, a woman calls 911 to report herself for DUI, Felix the Cat and Drunk Driving,  DUIs who crash vintage cars – (ouch!), Woman Unwittingly Creates Self-Driving Car, A Brilliant PSA from Australia, a Road Safety Message in a Vodka Bottle, a PSA about binge drinking that is decidedly “meh,” Drunk Driver Crashes $4 Million Car, Drunk Driving in 1910, a Superb New Think! PSA from the UKDrunk Driving in 1955: New Breath Test Technology Will Save the Day!, the Best Animated Gifs About Drunk Driving, Angle Parking: A Surreal DUI Stop Photo, a Hertz Advertisement that Could Have Used Another Set of Eyes, a Laugh Out Loud Anti-Drunk Driving Ad, How to Beat a Breathalyzer with Peanut Butter … Not!Who Knew? GM Invented the DUI Ignition Interlock in 1970 and a souvenir from back when drunk driving was funny.