You’ve seen the public service announcement before. An inebriated man stumbles out of a cocktail bar with a group of coworkers after having one too many. He fumbles for his keys and gets behind the wheel. He doesn’t notice the police officers blended seamlessly into the surrounding buildings.
After swerving a couple times, the driver pulls into a DUI roadblock. Busted. The narrator proclaims “They’ll see you, before you see them.” The PSA ends with the crestfallen man in the back of a police cruiser, and the final stated admonition of “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over.”
There are many others like this, including men getting pulled over with a comical amount of alcohol spilling out from the car when the driver rolls down the window. Others show men crying like a baby after getting arrested for DUI, with accompanying mugshots.
These ads certainly get our attention, and it seems as though they benefit society by discouraging drunk driving and improving road safety. Although, if you have paid any attention at all, you would notice that in every single one of these PSAs, the drunk driver is portrayed as a man. Half the population is being ignored entirely.
Now, if this were just one brief series of ads, it could be a pure coincidence that all the drunk drivers were men. But this has been a long running public awareness campaign produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Dozens of ads have been produced over many years. Not once has the NHTSA shown a woman driving drunk, despite the most recent FBI Statistics which show that 1 in 4 of those arrested for driving under the influence are women (and that doesn’t count the ones that are pulled over but let go). They have no problem profiling and stereotyping men, while ignoring the danger that female drunk drivers pose behind the wheel.
What We Can Do
The NHTSA has a contact form. We can let them know how we feel about this lack of equality in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” public awareness campaign. Send a polite message to NHTSA administrator Mark R. Rosekind. Go to http://www.nhtsa.gov/Contact, and click the email link.
To fight back against the negative portrayal of men as drunk drivers, we should take a page out of the Social Justice Warrior playbook. Make it all about protecting women and considering them equal to men.
Ask the NHTSA to stand with us in a true act of equality and diversity. Let them know that we are rising up against this potentially lethal ad series which doesn’t deliver the same safety message to women as it does to men.
If women do not get this particularly effective form of messaging, we could be looking forward to a tidal wave of female vehicular homicide. Turning a blind eye to 25 percent of drunk drivers endangers not only the perpetrators of the crime but also our society as a whole. Equality means to treat women the same as men. It does not mean to ignore their potentially lethal actions.
How We Should Reach Out To The NHTSA
Some recommendations for your letter to have the biggest impact:
1. Write that you are concerned that it is unfair to women that they aren’t depicted as drunk drivers.
2. Thank the government for taking the effort to make our roadways safer.
3. Explain that exclusively showing men as drunk drivers could bias the public and discourage them from reporting female impaired drivers.
4. Document a high profile case of a woman drunk driver killing innocent bystanders, such as Margo Bronstein who ran over four people outside a California church in December 2014. Suggest that it could have been prevented had she seen an NHTSA ad showing a women getting arrested for drunk driving.
5. Ask if the NHTSA will embrace equality and make our roads safer by depicting women as drunk drivers as they do men.
If several thousand of us all take a little time out of our day to send a friendly email to the NHTSA, we can lodge a big strike against widespread demonization of men, and turn the tide on the plague of female drunk drivers. This is a government agency that is truly in an indefensible position. They just haven’t been challenged yet. That’s where we come into play.
If our letters resonate and we see a single woman depicted as a drunk driver in a future ad, we will have been victorious. Until then, let’s crank out these emails. I recommend the polite approach I outlined above, but ultimately it’s up to you.