You are on a gurney, being wheeled toward an ambulance, past a burning car, a man in handcuffs, police officers, firefighters and other injured people. Suddenly, your condition takes a turn for the worse. You are being given CPR. An oxygen mask is placed over your face. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t look good.
That’s one of the perspectives in a 360-degree virtual reality web experience produced by U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. (You can also see what it’s like to be a firefighter or EMT at the scene of a crash.) The innovative web experience and some new TV advertisements are part of this year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday campaign.
The TV spot is called “No Big Deal,” and opens on a nighttime scene of a police officer at the scene of a crash. A haze of smoke emanating from a burning car, paramedics tending to an injured person in an ambulance, and then a shot of a forlorn man sitting in the back of a police cruiser. A voiceover intones, “You knew the risks when you decided to drive drunk. But you didn’t think about that. People could get hurt or killed. You can get arrested. But one thing’s for sure. You were wrong when you said it was no big deal. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
Drunk driving is a big problem this time of year. Nationally, over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. In 2016, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving-related crashes in the month of December alone. About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders according to NHTSA fatality data.
The solution, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao: plan a safe ride home from the festivities. Don’t drink and drive. If you will be drinking, designate a sober driver, or use NHTSA’s SaferRide app to call a taxi or a friend to be picked up. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.