Drinking and driving

“Campaigns and sanctions should happen simultaneously”

The campaign has been prepared in several languages.  Photo: MMTP

The campaign has been prepared in several languages.  Photo: MMTP

With ten deaths and 55 severely wounded due to drinking and driving in 2021, Luxembourg’s transport ministry and Sécurité routière ASBL on 14 November launched a new awareness campaign.

From 14 November to 15 January, the campaign will be plastered on the backs of buses, road signs, bus and tram screens and on the internet.  “If you can’t read the label of your bottle, don’t drive,” is the message a new advertisement video promotes.

In contrast with the reality behind it, the spot seems light-hearted, a conscious decision by the ministry and non-profit. “Some countries like Australia have gruesome and graphic campaigns, but according to experts, this kind of ad wouldn’t work in our country,” Sécurité routière president Paul Hammelmann told Delano.

The aim of this campaign, presented by transport minister François BauschFrançois Bausch (Déi Gréng) and Hammelmann on Monday morning, is not just there to warn drivers of the consequences of drinking and driving, but also to remind them that alternatives exist--like sleeping over at someone’s place, taking public transportation or simply not drinking. While Hammelmann acknowledges that residents in some parts of the country can’t rely on public transport as much, he underlines that “it’s much better than in the past.”

Campaigns alone not enough

The ministry and non-profit want to continue raising more awareness through campaigns, according to Hammelmann. But when asked about the effectiveness of campaigns on their own, the NGO president acknowledged that “campaigns and sanctions should happen simultaneously. To see the sanctions acknowledged, you have to do two things: prepare sanctions with a preventative character but also campaign so the wider public acknowledges them.”

In Luxembourg, drivers stopped with a blood alcohol content level of less than 0.5 ‰, usually aren’t fined. They can get fined €145 and have two points taken off their license if they have between 0.5‰ and 0.8‰. Between 0.8‰ and 1.2‰, this goes up to €25-€500 and four points in addition to a ticket. Any value above 1.2‰ means a fine between €500 and €10,000, alongside a ticket, a deduction of six points and a license withdrawal.

More reckless driving in post-covid times

Alcohol remains the second cause of accidents on Luxembourg roads--speed is the first--and the lifting of covid restrictions may have aggravated the issue. “People are letting themselves go more in post-covid times and want to have more fun. What they drank at home during lockdown, they’ll drink while on the road or before driving home,” said Hammelmann.

The numbers confirm it: more victims were severely wounded due to drinking and driving (55) in 2021 than had been since 2015, where 60 were severely injured in alcohol-related car accidents. Ten were killed in 2021 in such accidents, compared to three in 2020.