2.2 Alcohol-Impaired Motorcyclists: Communications and Outreach
Overall Effectiveness Concerns: A literature search found no evaluations of the safety effectiveness of any drinking and riding campaigns.
Many States have conducted communications and outreach campaigns directed at drinking and riding. See NHTSA (2006) and NCHRP (2008, Strategy B1) for more information and links. Organizations including AMA and MSF have produced campaigns and material on drinking and riding. See NHTSA (2006) and NCHRP (2008) for strategies for implementation, examples, and links to material. 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. The experience of drinking and driving campaigns directed at all drivers suggests that they 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 directed at impaired motorcyclists. See the Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving chapter, Section 5.2, for further discussion.
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.
The “Riders Helping Riders” program targets the expressed willingness of some motorcycle riders to help other riders by encouraging them to intervene to prevent other motorcycle riders from riding impaired and to create a stronger safety culture among motorcyclists. This program is based on the beliefs and attitudes of riders from focus group research (McKnight & Becker, 2007a, 2007b; McKnight et al., 2008). The material was pilot-tested in Georgia. Riders’ attitudes and intentions toward intervening seemed to improve based on surveys taken before and immediately after training. Longer-term evidence of attitude change, interventions actually carried out, or definitive safety effects from behavioral changes will require exposure to large numbers of riders and longer follow-up of crashes (McKnight et al., 2008).
Another program called “Green-Yellow-Red” was developed and tested in Wisconsin (Aguilar & Delehanty, 2009). The campaign sought to educate motorcycle riders about the dangers of drinking and riding, encourage them to make safer choices, and provide impaired motorcycle riders with secure storage of their motorcycles so that they could find safe transport home. A coalition was established that included motorcycle riders, tavern owners, law enforcement, and local businesses, and substantial media attention was obtained at the program kick-off. While there is evidence that riders were willing to leave their motorcycles in secure storage containers, only small changes in rider behavior and alcohol-related motorcycle crashes were observed following the program.
Rider groups can play critical roles in planning and implementing activities to reduce drinking and riding. Some State and local rider groups sponsor alcohol-free events or adopt alcohol-free policies. As examples, the Fox Valley, Wisconsin, Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) chapter has an alcohol-free policy for all organized rides and Illinois American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) sponsors alcohol-free rides (NHTSA, 2006, Section 1).
Use: Many States have conducted anti-drinking-and-riding campaigns (NHTSA, 2006; NCHRP, 2008, Strategy C1), but the total number of States that have done so is unknown. Some examples of States campaigns include Connecticut’s “Open the Throttle, Not the Bottle” and Minnesota’s “Drinking and Riding: A Really Bad Idea.” Many other States have brochures and other material. It also is not known how many States have included messages directed to motorcyclists in their overall alcohol-impaired driving campaigns. However, motorcycle riders are now included in the “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” paid media spots. NHTSA administers incentive grants for States that apply and meet regulatory criteria for programs that prevent impaired riding. See also NHTSA’s Stop Impaired Driving (www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/motorcycle-safety/stop-impaired-riding) and other motorcycle campaigns (www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/motorcycle-safety) for marketing material.
Effectiveness: There are no evaluations of the safety effectiveness of any drinking and riding campaigns.
Costs: A good campaign will require substantial funds to conduct market research, design and test messages, and place campaign material where it will reach motorcyclists frequently.
Time to implement: A substantive campaign will require at least 12 months to research, design, test, and implement. A vigorous implementation will require a significant duration.