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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Nuts and Bolts: How Not To Drink in Bhutan

Driving under the influence of alcohol is stupid and dangerous: I mean, just consider how stupid and dangerous the drivers are who haven't been drinking.

Frightening, isn't it?

The question is, how do you get people to stop doing it?

In Britain there are two methods. Firstly, the penalties for drink-driving are severe, including automatic bans, fines and imprisonment. 

The other method involves advertising campaigns. The short TV films involved often start off all happy and full of beautiful people, and end up in dark tragedy.

The same sort of approach is taken to the dangers of speeding.

But consider: if something terrible happens to the actors in a film, then what do people do? Do people try to remember every detail of these tragic events as they go about their daily lives? Or do they tell themselves it was all fiction, try to put the most heart-rending bits out of their minds, and get on with doing other stuff? 

This desire not to wallow in sorrow might be one reason why these Tragic Advertisements might not be the most effective way of getting the drink-driving message across (that, and the comforting belief that it probably won't happen to you).

The small Himalayan nation of Bhutan has another approach. One of their advertisements goes like this:

After drinking whisky
Driving is risky.

And then there's:

Going faster
Will see disaster.

Drive slow
To avoid grave below

On the bend
Go slow friend

Don't be a gama*
In the land of lama.

and the slightly less elegant:

Don't hurry, be cool,
Since heaven is already full.

(though how they missed rhyming cool with fool I do not know).

But the proof of the pudding is, as always, in the eating. So what do the road-safety figures for Britain and Bhutan tell us? 

In Bhutan in 2013 about one in five thousand people were killed in traffic accidents. 

In Britain it was about one in thirty eight thousand...

...which just goes to show that if anyone knows anything about anything, it certainly isn't me.

Word To Use Today: traffic. This word comes from the Old French trafique, from the Old Italian traffico, from trafficare, to engage in trade.

*I've seen gama defined variously as a crazy person, a legendary wrestler, and an annoying river creature.

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