Johannesburg — Joburg commuters were divided this week when a teaser for a “first-to-SA” pop-up store situated on William Nicol Drive, was revealed to be a drive-through bar, aptly named #OneOnNicol.
The controversy around the drive-through bar has forced South Africans to actively re-think their drinking habits and thought patterns when it comes to getting behind the wheel or walking home after just one drink ahead of the festive season.
The #ReThink activation forms part of a broader festive season campaign headed up by the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (aware.org), in partnership with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). The initiative is a bold bid to shift the conversation around drinking and driving, and drinking and walking, in South Africa.
“There is a propensity for people to shrug off the responsibility of road safety when they’ve only had a few drinks,” says Ingrid Louw, CEO of aware.org. “They’ll say ‘I’m fine to drive’, or ‘I’ve only had one or two’. But the fact is that even one drink can affect our ability to make good decisions on the road, no matter our size or how accustomed to alcohol we are. But do we really know our limits or when we’ve had enough?”
“If we want to change public’s thinking on responsible consumption of alcohol before driving or walking home, we need to change decades of habits and culture,” continues Louw. “Twenty years of festive ad campaigns haven’t seen the impact we require to shift perception, so it was time for a new approach that we hope will cut through the clutter to get a desensitised public to engage in a debate of drinking and driving and drinking and walking, but more importantly get the public to re-think their own behaviour when they’ve had even one drink. This activation was a way to get the public to actively engage in the conversation around drinking and driving or walking at a time of the year when it is top-of-mind and relevant for everyone on the road.”
As the alcohol industry’s collective commitment to responsible alcohol consumption, aware.org has several active programmes in place to help reduce the harmful effects of alcohol abuse in South Africa. While concerns around drinking and driving has received a lot of attention over the years, the lesser known issue of drinking and walking is equally, if not more devastating. As such, #ReThink is being activated on both a national and community level to help educate and create awareness around the dangers of alcohol use and misuse, particularly at this time of year. This campaign also spans the issues of the scourge of underage drinking, binge drinking and drinking whilst pregnant.
“Much of the engagement we have seen on our social media platforms reveals a misunderstanding of why drinking and walking is of such a great concern,” explains Louw. “So, it is important to us that we speak directly to communities to drive behavioural and cultural change. This is a collective effort to realise safer environments and public spaces for all. Our aim is to be both empowering and responsive in addressing this issue. We are working with government, industry, civil society, traders and communities in addressing a problem that has been ignored for too long and that affects each and every one of us.”
The partnership between Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and aware.org is a strategic balance between road safety and enforcement while driving awareness and education.
Aware.org has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with RTMC to implement relevant road safety programmes, campaigns and initiatives. This is to demonstrate our collective efforts in ensuring that the partnership extends beyond the festive season. We believe this partnership will make South African roads safer for all commuters.
“We are 100% committed to affecting real and lasting change in the reduction of fatalities on South Africa’s roads,” said Adv Makhosini Msibi, CEO of RTMC. “To achieve this, we have to tackle the issue of alcohol misuse and the use of the road.
It is estimated that 60% of road traffic fatalities on our roads are related to alcohol. The World Health Organisation highlights the importance of multi-sectoral partnerships, publicity and highly visible law enforcement as some of the key interventions that can have assist in reducing road fatalities in the world. It is in this context that the RTMC has joined forces with aware.org to educate South Africans about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as drinking and walking.
We recognise that we need to get the public’s attention in a way that engenders real change in order to reduce the number of road deaths and make our roads safer for everyone.”
For more information on the awareness programmes run by aware.org, you can visit their website at www.aware.org.za or follow them on Facebook (@aware.org.za) and Twitter (@AwareOrg).