The contribution of education and public information to reducing alcohol-impaired driving

Williams, Allan F.
Alcohol, Drugs, and Driving

Laws aimed at alcohol-impaired driving have been shown to change behavior in ways that reduce the problem. Alcohol education and public information programs, in contrast, rarely result in short-term behavior change. In part, this is because drinking, and combining drinking with driving, are lifestyle behaviors shaped and supported by many ongoing social forces, and they are not readily amenable to change through brief, one-time education/public information efforts. Moreover, those who contribute most to the problem have characteristics that make them least susceptible to behavior change through educational programs. However, education and public information programs have an important role to play in combating alcohol-impaired driving. They can provide support and impetus for passing laws; transmit knowledge about the provisions and penalties of laws in ways that increase their deterrent effect; and generate public support for law enforcement programs. Greater attention to educating and informing policy and decision makers, rather than at-risk individuals, is needed.
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