Buzzed Driving Prevention (2011)


Drunk driving is one of the most frequently committed crimes in the United States, killing someone approximately every 48 minutes. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, representing nearly 32 percent of all traffic fatalities. Although significant progress has been made since 1983 when the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first partnered on anti-drinking and driving messaging, there is still a lot of work to be done on this issue.

Research shows that far too many people justify that they can drive after drinking because they feel “just buzzed.” The buzzed driver is one who drinks and drives, but does not consider him or herself a hazard on the roadway or a drunk driver because “only a few” drinks are consumed. The campaign educates people that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving."


To inspire recognition of the consequences and dangers of buzzed driving and subsequently motivate people to stop driving buzzed.


  • Primary: males ages 21-34, well-meaning “average Joes” who don’t mean any harm but continue to drink and drive, either feeling invincible or just unrealistically optimistic about the control they have over their lives
  • Secondary: women ages 21-44, who are going out socially for a drink and most often try to moderate their drinking so they can drive home


Over $367 million in donated media support from 2005-2011.


The success of the “Buzzed Driving” campaign can be attributed to a number of factors including a strong research-based foundation, an appropriate tone, and an engaging and hard-hitting message directed at the target audience.

Tracking study results of adults age 21+ and men 21-35 in January 2011 demonstrated:

  • Awareness of the campaign: with about one-half of adults ages 21+ (49 percent) and nearly six in 10 men ages 21-35 (56 percent) familiar with the campaign, the campaign’s awareness level is substantially stronger than any other campaign currently on the Ad Council docket due in large part to strong donated media support and media partnerships, and a strong suite of creative assets.
  • Importance of the issue: there was a significant increase in the proportion of men age 21-35 who called themselves “extremely concerned” about the issue of drunk driving, from 22 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2011.
  • Behaviors over the holiday season: every January for the past five years--immediately following the Project Road block push--an increasing number of adults 21+ report that within the past month they have refrained from driving after drinking, from nine percent in January 2006 to 13 percent in January 2011. The growth was similar among men 21-35, from 17 percent to 25 percent.

While the Ad Council cannot claim the campaign as the sole driver of these behaviors, it is likely that it played a role, due to the campaign’s vast reach and recognition among the target audience.

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