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Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Mass Media Campaigns

Mass media campaigns intended to reduce alcohol-impaired driving are designed to persuade individuals either to avoid drinking and driving or to prevent others from doing so. Common campaign themes include fear of arrest; fear of injury to self, others, or property; and characterizing drinking drivers as irresponsible and dangerous to others.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends mass media campaigns to reduce alcohol-impaired driving based on strong evidence of their effectiveness under certain conditions. These conditions include that the mass media campaigns are carefully planned and well executed; attain adequate audience exposure; and are implemented in settings that have other ongoing alcohol-impaired driving prevention activities.

Task Force Finding

Results from the Systematic Review

Eight studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Total alcohol-related crashes: median decrease of 13% (interquartile interval: 6% to 14% decrease; 7 studies)
  • Injury-producing alcohol-related crashes: median decrease of 10% (interquartile range: 6% to 14% decrease; 6 studies)
  • Proportion of drivers who had consumed alcohol: net decreases of 30% and 158% (2 studies)
  • Evaluated mass media campaigns had several components in common:
    • A theoretical framework in communications research
    • Pretested messages
    • High levels of audience exposure to the message, mostly through paid advertising
  • These campaigns were implemented in settings that had other prevention efforts in place, such as high-visibility enforcement of impaired driving laws.
  • Campaign messages ranged from those focused on law enforcement activities and the legal consequences of drinking and driving to the social and health consequences of alcohol-impaired driving.
  • Results did not differ according to the message appeals used.

These results are based on a systematic review of all available studies led by scientists from CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice and policy related to reducing alcohol-impaired driving.

Supporting Materials


Elder RW, Shults RA, Sleet DA, et al. Effectiveness of mass media campaigns for reducing drinking and driving and alcohol-involved crashes: a systematic review. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 668 kB] Am J Prev Med  2004;27:57-65.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendation for use of mass media campaigns to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 34 kB] Am J Prev Med 2004;27(1):66.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor vehicle occupant injury. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 355 kB] In : Zaza S, Briss PA, Harris KW, eds. The Guide to Community Preventive Services: What Works to Promote Health? Atlanta (GA): Oxford University Press;2005:329-84.

Read other Community Guide publications about Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention in our library.

*PDF includes all of the information available and will not be updated.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Reducing alcohol-impaired driving: mass media campaigns. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: June 2002