Saturday, November 28, 2009

Campaigns against drink-driving

In Austria a lot of alcohol-related accidents happen especially at this time of the year. We have a Christmas market- and hence also a Glühwein and Punsch-drinking tradition (in English this is called mulled wine and glogg as far as I know). So recently we also have a new campaign against drink-driving (in German):

"Alkohol am Steuer: Könnten Sie damit leben?" / "Drink-driving: Could you live with it?"

It's all about first times (walking, car ownership, being promoted etc.) of Stefan and Tobias -- and about the first time drink-driving and it's consequences... I think the question "Could you live with the consequences?" at the end is of course dramatic, but still very realistic. There is a similar spot from Ireland (in English):

"Could you live with the shame?"

In 2002 we had this, well, rather funny spot about drink-driving in Austria which is more directed towards young people who, on the countryside, often heavily depend on cars when they want to go out. It shows three zombies coming out of their graves and talk about their last disco visit: how drunk they were, that one said he could still drive, that the others joined and wanted to drive to another bar etc. It ends with "Und was ist dann eigentlich passiert?" / "And what happened then?" before you can hear cars crashing in the background:

"Drink + Drive = Death"

Do you have campaigns against drink-driving in your country? Do you think such TV spots can make a difference? If so, which ones do you consider most effective? Do you think they have to be shocking in order to show any effect?

By the way, what blood alcohol limits do you have in your country? In Austria we have a 0.5‰ drink-drive-limit for car drivers (and basically 0 for beginners). However, this regulation is only written down in the Kfz-Gesetz (law for motorists). Generally, and hence also for cyclists, we have 0.8‰ limit which previously used to be the overall limit (before they lowered it in 1998). If you know German and are interested in details you can continue reading in the "Handbuch Alkohol - Österreich" and the newspaper article "Angetrankelt mit dem Fahrrad unterwegs" (about drink-biking).

Do you ever drink-bike? I really try to avoid that. When I plan to go out I either leave my bike at home or just don't drink at all. I think that a slow reaction can be pretty dangerous if one has to ride between cars. Thus in that sense it also matters where I'm cycling. I don't mind having a beer and cycling back home on a lonesome cycle path in the countryside. Good lighting at night, however, is always essential!


ibikelondon said...

It's funny you should post about drinking and driving - a group of friends and I were discussing this just the other day and how succesful the various campaigns have been in making drinking and driving only the domain of loosers and idiots - 20 years ago everyone did it in the UK, not it's an absolute taboo and no one with a brain does it. Adverts in the UK are very graphic and always increase in the run up to Christmas (adverts like this

So, if minds and hearts can be changed with public advertising campaigns, maybe we can do the same for cycling? Not with graphic videos that make cycling out to be more dangerous than it is (hey, we have the gutter press for that) but with videos that make people realise how fabulous cycling is. Now, where do we start?

ibikelondon said...

Two more clever ones from the UK:

The Drunken Driver's barman:
(this one has a very talented actor playing all the roles of people who will prosecute a drink driver):

"Kill your speed or live with it":

l' homme au velo said...

In Ireland we have a lot of Fatal Accidents on Isolated Country Roads late at Night. Often on Straight Roads in Dry conditions where someone crashes into a Pole or Ditch and Kills themselves.

It is mostly Young People between 18 and 30 either going to Discos or coming Home in the small hours of the Night.

About two Weeks ago A group of Girls were out for the Night in their Car down the Country and they crashed into a small 2 Tonne Truck. Four were Killed and some were badly injured including the Man and Woman in the Truck.

This is a regular occurance with some Young Person being Killed mostly just one Individual and usually a Young Male crashing into a Wall or Pole and killing themselves. When this happens the perceived cause is never Publicised in the Media possibly to spare the Anguish of the Relatives.

I would say it is a combination of Alcohol and Tirdness and also do not forget Drugtaking.

In the Country Areas Public Transport is non Existant so leading to risk taking like Drink Driving. Although in recent Years because of the Lowering of the Drink Limit less People are going to the Country Pubs and so an awful lot of them have closed down.The Pub is often the only Social Outlet in Country Areas of Ireland and they often have Snooker and Pool Tables in the Pubs.

There is a Newer less Alcohol Limit brought in this Year on a Par with the Continent but they cannot use it until they get Updated Breathalyser Equipment.

Kenneth said...

In Denmark we have a 0.05% limit which is reduced to 0% if you're involved in an accident.

We have had some focus on the drunk-driving problem over the years, and just like Mark wrote, it has largely become socially unaccepted now. I wouldn't say that only losers do it, but it's definitely frowned upon.
And I guess you could make it a question of definition: people who drive when drunk are losers, therefore only losers drive drunk. ;-)

Regarding drunk-bicycling I'm on a completely different level.
A bicyclist is hardly a great danger for others in traffic - ride into someone and you will get hurt just as bad as they will.
So I think it's ok to ride your bike while drunk, as you mainly risk damaging yourself.

As far as I know, people only refrain from biking drunk if they're afraid to hurt themselves, either because of loss of balance skills or fear from losing their oversight of traffic. Also I have never heard of drunk bicyclists hurting other people - only themselves. Actually I think a young man died last year, from falling on his bike on the way home saturday night; stopped at red light, fell over and landed with the stomach on the end of the handlebar which caused damage to some vital organs.

I even see it as an advantage of living in the city, that you can go out to clubs or parties by bike, get knackered, and get on your bike and go home - or move on to the next place without too much trouble.

Maybe it's a cocktail of the Copenhagen bicycle culture and the danish alcohol culture - we are very liberal with both of them.

Technically you can get arrested for drunk-biking, but you have to be a danger to yourself or to others and it has nothing to do with your blood alcohol percent AFAIK.

ibikelondon said...

@Kenneth "it's ok to ride your bike while drunk, as you mainly risk damaging yourself" - I take the opposite end of the argument as a stand point. I think it's a myth that we cyclists have perpetuated amongst ourselves to sometimes justify our own actions that if a cyclists collides with a pedestrian they will only get as hurt as we will.

Last night I was at a debate about cycling and heard from Baroness Sharples, who is famous in this country for clobbering a red light jumping cyclist with her handbag at the sprightly age of 84. Joking aside, her very valid point was that she had no issue with cyclists but that as an older and less agile member of the community she was extremely afraid of being hit by a cyclist and falling, the likelihood of such a fall probably being a broken hip which can easily lead to complications.

Now we all know that statistically we are very unlikely to collide with peds, even when red light jumping, however if cycling whilst under the influence our ability to do this is severely diminished. I think all people have a basic right to urban mobility - including elderly pedestrians - and we shouldn't be infringing on that by massively diminishing our ability to not hit pedestrians. Have a beer, sure, just don't ride drunk.

anna said...

I think I'll go along with Mark on that (thanks for the links to the videos, by the way). However, it's an individual thing -- it depends not only on how much one drinks but also on the road/weather conditions and certainly the area. As I was saying, cycling in the city is a serious thing as there are generally a lot of people (on foot, by bike or in a car) around and accidents are more likely to happen due to inattention.
On the other hand, Kenneth has a good point too. If one is too drunk s/he can't even climb up a bike and start pedalling.
Sometimes, I think, it's certainly a good idea to walk the bike. That way one even has something to hold on to :). And that's something that is only possible when one is out by bike and not by car..

Velouria said...

Ah, German adverts! Gotta love them.
I do not drink and cycle, because drinking even a little makes me dehydrated and doing any kind of physical activity becomes unpleasant. I am for sober cycling.

Sonja said...

I usually get drunk somewhere else but in my home so of course I'm biking. The option after the last bus (12 or 2:30) is a cab, which I can't afford or wait, or walking, which is much more dangerous than cycling if you are alone (I usually am). No rapist can outrun a cyclist, even if the cycist is tipsy. Not that I'm much afraid of them, but still, it is worse than falling on your bike.

ibikelondon said...

I guess the trick is to do things in moderation (ie don't get too drunk) or, cycle out and walk your bike home.

@sonja funny you should mention out running sexual predators - there has been a funny story here in London of a semi-naked man cycling up and down the river exposing himself to ladies passing by (it wasn't me!!!!) so predators are everywhere - on bikes and off!

Great disussion on this subject from all - great original post Anna.

Christa said...


I don't know what's scarier: being inside a car, or being surrounded by them.

Unfortunately we can only control one aspect.

Finn Rossi said...

Watching these videos is really depressing. I can’t stand seeing how life goes for those innocent people whose lives have been caught up by these drunk drivers. And with that, we should really discipline ourselves order not to harm ourselves and most especially, others.

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