For the past few weeks, Star Wars wisdom has been beaming down from the Arizona skies in the form of some catchy public service announcements on the state’s Highway message boards. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has found a creative way to tie the release of the new Star Wars film, “The Force Awakens” to its message board driving campaigns.
The crafty messages are part of an effort by ADOT Director John Halikowski and his team to use the message boards and social media to “go outside the box and keep the conversation going” on safety issues, say ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel.
Of particular importance is reaching younger drivers while keeping mature drivers aware of the risks of unsafe driving. This is isn’t the first time ADOT used movie themes and other culture references to catch commuters’ eyes and deliver important safety tips. Just before thanksgiving, they reminded drivers not to drink and drive with a message that referenced the recent New York Times recipe combining peas and guacamole; “drinking and driving go together like peas and guac,” the sign said.
They’ve also used announcements like “drive hammered, get nailed” and now these playful, pointed “Star Wars” PSAs, including “aggressive driving is the path to the dark side” to coincide with the release of the latest Star Wars franchise.
ADOT has some company, with transportation departments in Utah, Iowa, Colorado and Arizona all coordinating their Star Wars driving messages. There were some great signs from all of these states, including:
- “Awaken your inner force. Focus on the road.”
- “Texting and driving leads to the dark side.”
- “The force is strong with you. Put down the phone.”
- “Be a rebel, not a clone. Put down the phone.”
- “Road rage? Let the Wookiee win.”
We think ADOT and the other DOTs around the country are on to something. The message boards are a great communication tool. But, here’s the thing. The messages we’ve seen so far seem to be geared towards overall safe driving. In 2014, the highest number of alcohol-related deaths on Arizona highways occurred on Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to official statistics, and one in three highway fatalities was tied to alcohol.
With this captive highway driving audience, could ADOT and other agencies around the country use the boards as a better tool to prevent drinking and driving? Could they, in a playful way, highlight the downsides, including something as terrible as injuring or killing someone, requiring a breathalyzer test, being arrested for a DUI, requiring an ignition interlock device (IID) or the loss of a driver’s license? We have an easy one that sticks with the Star Wars theme: “Don’t go to the dark side by drinking and driving.” If it was that easy to come up with this one, we’re certain there are a bunch more that could be very useful.
Currently, 25 states require IIDs for all DUI offenders, and Arizona is one of them. If you’ve gotten a DUI in Arizona and need a qualified ignition IID installer, or, if you are looking for ways to keep a young driver you love safe, contact us for more information on the Determinator, our interlock device, which, helps prevent accidents and saves lives.