Communication Campaigns Aimed at Alcohol-Impaired Motorcyclists
Many States have conducted communications and outreach campaigns directed at drinking and riding, and organizations including AMA and MSF have produced campaigns and material on drinking and riding. There are few evaluations of the effectiveness of any of these campaigns at any level, from awareness to knowledge and attitude change to any effect on motorcyclists’ drinking and riding behavior. Additionally, research on drinking and driving campaigns directed at all drivers suggests that these communication campaigns are unlikely to have a positive effect unless they are carefully researched and planned, well-funded, well executed, achieve high levels of target audience exposure (perhaps using paid advertising), use high-quality messages that are pre-tested for effectiveness, and are conducted in conjunction with enforcement activities directed at impaired motorcyclists.
This type of communication campaign assumes that motorcyclists who ride after drinking are not aware of the potential dangers or consequences of this behavior. While we often assume we understand why people behave a certain way, in reality human behavior is usually much more complicated. A focus group study (Becker et al., 2003) examined motorcyclists’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors regarding drinking and riding. It concluded that many motorcyclists have strong feelings of freedom, independence, and individual responsibility and believe that drinking motorcyclists endanger only themselves. Consequently, they believe that government efforts to discourage drinking and riding are inappropriate. These beliefs also limit some motorcyclists’ willingness to take actions to prevent others from riding while impaired. See the Introduction for more information about principles of human behavior. See the Alcohol-Impaired Driving chapter for more information on countermeasures that work to address impaired driving.