Get a quote

ingenie blog

Find out what's going on at ingenie

50 years of saying no to one for the road

December saw the 50th anniversary of the first drink driving awareness advert. We took a stroll through the decades to see how things have changed over the years.

The 1960s

Until 1964, having a few Martinis and then driving home to the wife was all in a day's work. Sure, hundreds of people were dying every year because of it - but was that any reason to deny a gentleman his right to a stiff drink for the road?

Yes. This was the decade that the government finally pulled its socks up and released the first anti-drink driving campaign. It was gentle but it was also groundbreaking: three years before the legal drink drive limit was set in 1967, Britain started to realise that they probably shouldn't be driving if they could see two Minis where they thought they'd parked one.

So, the same year that capital punishment was used for the last time, another kind of death sentence began to be lifted.

Don't ask a man to drink and drive

The 1970s

As late as 1979, more than half of male drivers were still admitting to drink driving on a weekly basis. That's not to say women weren't drink driving too. A greengrocer's daughter had just become the first female prime minister: women could do anything men could.

A drink driving awareness campaign from that year called Think Before You Drink shows a few of the images we're now used to: the crash, an ambulance, the driver sitting in a cell with his head in his hands.

1979 Think Before You Drink

The 1980s

Drink driving campaigns in the 80s began to focus on all the things you stand to lose. You could call that 'the personal touch' - or it could be that advertisers had realised people pay a lot more attention to things that directly affect them.

The new trend showed the real consequences of drink driving - from having to beg for lifts to the rocketing cost of insurance after being caught over the limit. The driver in one advert exclaimed, "But that's more than I paid for the motor!"

Think before you drink before you drive

The 1990s

The 90s - in typical fashion for the decade - took it further. Shock tactics made their first appearance: the new focus was on death. A line from one ad showed a woman asking her husband, "How am I supposed to explain that you killed a little boy?"

Contrast was used to harrowing effect. Mungo Jerry's 'In the Summertime' plays while people drink and laugh in the sunshine - it's like an advert for Pimm's. Seconds later, we see a horrific crash. Two people in the party didn't make it home.

1990s drink driving campaign

The 2000s

This decade established an insidious approach that ensured nightmares. Most people who grew up in the noughties remember the hauntingly horrible advert with a little girl being hit by a car.

She gradually picks herself up, bones crunching as she jerkily unfolds from her unnatural position at the side of the road - time is turning back.

And that voiceover: "If you hit me at 40 miles an hour, there's around an 80% chance I'll die. Hit me at 30 and there's around an 80% chance I'll live."

The noughties made sure we'd never forget the words, "It's 30 for a reason."

Hit me at 30


From 1,640 drink driving related deaths in 1967, in 2012 there were 230. Getting better Britain...but still not good enough.

92% of people surveyed recently by THINK! said they'd be ashamed of a drink driving conviction - but only 1 in 5 young drivers said the same.

Really? You wouldn't be embarrassed to have to hope for a lift every time you wanted to go somewhere? You wouldn't feel a bit reluctant to admit in an interview that you couldn't drive to work because you're banned?

I know I would.


Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .