Drink or drive? This is the question being put to diners in Chinese restaurants in Suzhou, China, under the ‘NO Drink Driving’ road safety campaign supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Road Safety in Ten Countries (RS10) programme.
With more and more Chinese people owning cars, there is a tendency for people not only to drive to work, but also to restaurants for social gatherings. In Chinese culture, as in many parts of the world, drinking and making toasts is an important part of the meal, however this of course gives rise to incidents of drink driving.
The laws in China relating to drink driving are strict, and the humanitarian costs of drink driving-related road crashes are well documented, however research within Suzhou found that many still drank and then drove, often out of convenience, then would cite poor excuses such as ‘only driving a short distance’ or ‘I am a capable drinker’.
So the ‘NO Drink Drive’ initiative was born, mobilizing a variety of public and private resources and focussing on big, busy restaurants with their own parking lots and reliable drive-home service providers, where the diner is driven home in their own car.
Participating restaurants place signage and road safety messages outside and within the restaurant (example shown at left) ensuring that any diner is aware that the restaurant has a road safety policy. Wait staff are trained to use tactful language to advocate for the ‘NO Drink Drive’ message, politely informing those ordering alcoholic drinks that the restaurant supports this message and offers a safe and reliable drive-home service. It was found that when the message and service were well presented to the diner, they would rarely refuse.
With more and more businesses adopting social responsibility into their workplace guidelines, restaurants involved in the project have a compelling sales message for attracting corporate dining business. As more restaurants become involved, wait staff trained as road safety advocates will improve their future employment opportunities. Drive-home service providers embrace the project as a long-term growth opportunity. The project has also engaged with the employment industry, the insurance industry as well as with local authorities and enforcement agencies and is actively encouraging more restaurants to advocate for the road safety message and ask of their patrons, “Drink or drive?”.