To increase awareness and stigmatize irresponsible drinking behavior, especially among high-risk drivers, Responsibility.org today launched Wrong Side of the Road—a new initiative designed to educate and change attitudes among the 21- to 35-year-old demographic who are continually over-represented in DUI crashes and deaths.
“Wrong Side of the Road is a free, interactive learning experience that presents a series of videos where impaired drivers share the life changing consequences of their DUIs,” said Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and Responsibility.org. “By increasing awareness, we can lower instances of irresponsible behavior, especially among high-risk drivers. It’s our sincere hope that one day, this innovative and important program can help ensure no more lives are lost to irresponsible and reckless driving behavior.”
The launch featured remarks from several notable attendees, including U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and U.S. Representative Charles Fleischmann (TN-3).
“We have the technology to save countless lives, and it’s time we use it. More families should not have to go through the trauma of losing their loved ones to something so preventable,” said U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “And that’s why my legislation, the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act, is included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill because so many recognize the need to stop these preventable tragedies. I’m grateful for Responsibility.org’s leadership and partnership in this fight – especially through creating innovative strategies like the Wrong Side of the Road to educate Americans and prevent them from driving impaired.”
The representative from Tennessee agreed with Rep. Dingell on her outlook towards solutions needed for impaired driving.
“We have lost far too many Tennesseans to alcohol-impaired driving incidents over the years. It is critical to raise awareness and provide resources to help folks see how dangerous driving under the influence truly is,” said U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3). “I commend Responsibility.org for providing their unique, user-friendly tool ‘Wrong Side of the Road,’ and look forward to helping to continue to promote this life-saving program.”
Developed by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Diageo, and implemented in America by Responsibility.org on behalf of its 11 funders, craft supporters and corporate partners, Wrong Side of the Road will run globally through 2030. Following the panel discussion, attendees watched a demonstration of the program and learned more about the dangers of impaired driving during a Q&A session that included strategies to lower the numbers of impaired driving crashes and deaths.
“Diageo is committed to creating prevention tools that further educate people about the dangers of impaired driving,” said Debra Crew, President, Diageo North America. “It is important that we join forces to combat impaired driving to tackle this behavior. These crashes are completely preventable—no one should have their life changed forever because someone drove impaired. Wrong Side of the Road is an innovative way to get that message in front of high-risk drivers who need to hear it.”
The event also included remarks from David Whitesock, a Wrong Side of the Road participant, who discussed his own DUI experience and the negative impact it had on his life.
“I feel incredibly lucky to participate in the Wrong Side of the Road program and to share my story with individuals who will hopefully choose not to get behind the wheel when impaired,” said Whitesock. “I am grateful for the opportunity to support this important program and serve as an example of the serious consequences of impaired driving. If there is one upside to my struggle with addiction, it’s that I can now help others make better choices.”
The launch follows the release of the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) preliminary Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The survey estimates, there was an 18 percent increase in U.S. traffic deaths in the first six months of 2021 when compared to the first six months of 2020 (the highest half-year percentage increase in the history of recorded FARS data), and a separate analysis found in 2020 police reported alcohol-involved traffic deaths increased an estimated nine percent.
While drunk driving fatalities have decreased 36 percent since 1991, traffic deaths increased 10 percent in the U.S. from 2020-2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The latest data show, police reported alcohol-involved traffic deaths increased by nine percent with extreme speeds and low seat belt use noted as additional factors in the noted rise in traffic fatalities.