Preventing Substance (Ab)use in Traffic
A guideline on how to communicate about substance (ab)use in traffic
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs causes unsafe behavior in traffic. If you communicate this the right way, you can help people. If you don’t do this properly, your communicative efforts might backfire. The Werther effect is an example of such undesired results, suggesting that news coverage of unwanted behaviour might spark an interest in others, causing them to copy the behavior. This is, of course, the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management aims to reduce and prevent traffic accidents in which substance (ab)use played a role. Therefore, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is working on an integrated approach to driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and medicines that pose a risk to driving. Driving under the influence is also included in the National Road Safety Action Plan 2022–2025. Part of this integrated approach was a communication guideline, which I developed together with Behavioral Designers. It offers tools for communication about substance (ab)use in traffic and the legal frameworks, based on insights from behavioural science. The guideline therefore forms an important basis for behaviour change.