As expected, the The City of Phoenix Police Department were out in force on Cinco de Mayo, ready to apprehend any drunk drivers who might have made it onto the road.
This time the police also sent out another kind of workforce to aid the fight against drunk driving: they released a set of drunk driving memes to persuade people to use designated drivers.
Memes, as you know, are images taken from readily-recognized pieces of popular culture, to which messages have been added. The idea is to make a point, get a laugh, or possibly both.
On their Facebook page, the City of Phoenix Police Department released 14 memes intended to remind revelers not to drive drunk. Anyone who spends time on social media will recognize them. Yoda, Napoleon Dynamite, the Dos Equis man, Liam Neeson, and others have been pressed into duty under the hashtag #NoDuisTonight.
The hashtag goes with the department’s expressed wish not to arrest anyone for DUI on Cinco de Mayo.
It’s hard to know how effective the campaign was. In truth, behavior doesn’t usually change overnight. Drunk driving has been on the decline for years because of better laws – including ignition interlock requirements – and intensive public education. It was an effort that began in earnest over thirty years ago, and the task is far from complete.
Still, back when MADD began campaigning for stronger anti-DUI laws and the Ad Council first told people that friends don’t let friends drive drunk, there was no World Wide Web and no memes. Times change, and so do the tools of persuasion. Perhaps the drunk driving memes will add a little extra volume to the torrent of sober driving messages, in which case the The City of Phoenix Police Department did well. If Yoda can the message across can get, then a good job they did.