This could be you

Five students from a college in Bandra want to shake the city out of its apathy towards drunk driving. The under-grad crusaders tell us about their campaign against irresponsible driving that started out as a college assignment, early last month

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Along with valet parking tags, The decision to create an anti-DUI (Driving Under the Influence) campaign for their annual project was one that a bunch of Final Year BMM (Bachelor of Mass Media) students from Bandra's RD National College made with their hearts.

"One of our close friends had a brush with drinking and driving, which resulted in his spending two nights in jail," shares says Shraddha Chauhan, one of the students who worked on the campaign.  She adds, "While there is a basic awareness on the topic, there is no personal connect with the issue. People assume that it happens only to others."

Instead of confining the project to their friend circle, the group, which includes Shweta Bharat, Uma Rane, Nirali Marfatia and Rahul Lalchandani, chose to involve more people by taking to the streets. "We wanted it to be an interactive project and so approached rickshaw drivers in Bandra.

So far, up to 50 autorickshaw drivers in Bandra have pledged
their support for the campaign by pasting stickers on their

Initially, we encountered a lot of resistance from them, as they felt we didn't have a proper plan, dismissing it as a mere college project," recalls Shraddha about the first phase of the campaign that kickstarted last month on September 2.

They did, however, finally manage to get willing autowallahs who agreed to stick posters behind their autorickshaws with messages, including, 'Had a drink today? Baetho Is Mei (Sit in this). Drive Another Day'.
Thanks to a good response from commuters and a realisation that encouraging drunk drivers to seek other methods of commuting meant a profit for them as well, more autowallahs signed up.

Mission: Save a life
One of the objectives behind the campaign was to reduce the number of deaths caused by drinking and driving, by making people feel responsible for their actions. "We approached a couple of lounges as that is where people go to have a drink, but they weren't too keen," reveals Shraddha.

Diners who drive up are handed cards illustrating how vision is
compromised under the influence of alcohol, along with valet
parking tags at popular watering hole Bonobo in Bandra.

Ultimately, restobar Bonobo, in Bandra expressed interest in the campaign, allowing the students to display a dummy dead body of a victim (made from empty liquor bottles and spare car parts) with the message the most hard-hitting messages in the campaign: This Could Be You. Diners were also handed cards that display the ways in which vision is compromised under the influence of alcohol, along with valet parking tags.

Other ground-level activities saw the students getting people to sign a petition vowing to never drive under the influence of alcohol. The advertising students also created online ads and a viral video depicting the effects of drunk driving. Next up, they plan to launch an online game.

Not a smooth ride
Shraddha says that while it has been a struggle to juggle studies with the campaign that they would have it no other way. "We wanted to make a difference and not just do something, because we had to. It is that drive that has kept us going," she shares.

Faces behind the campaign: (from left to right) Rahul
Lalchandani, Nirali Marfatia, Shraddha Chauhan, Shweta Bharat
and Uma Rane

The students believe that their specialisation in advertising also helped when it came to crafting slogans and say that teamwork was vital to the successful execution of the campaign, evidenced by the over-1,000 'likes' on their Facebook page and positive feedback in the form of comments from 16 countries. While impressed with the reaction, Shraddha says that a large part of the connect with people from around the world has to do with
the issue itself, which she defines as "universal".

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Second chance for reckless drivers
A similar campaign has been kicked off by five Final Year Mass Media students from Bandra's St Andrews College. Titled Dead End, the  project saw volunteers distribute stationery (bookmarks, timetables, tissue boxes), cautioning against drunk driving. The students -- Ria Bhavsar, Kshama Joshi, Nikita Braggs, Praveen Jose and Anisha Parakh -- have involved other colleges in the campaign, apart from hitting the streets to spread awareness. The next stage of the campaign is to involve NGOs and the traffic police.

Did you know?
> Male drivers involved
in fatal crashes were almost two times more likely to have been intoxicated (21.8%) than females (11.2%).
> Men are four times more likely than women to drive after drinking.
> Drivers aged between 21 and 29 are the most likely to drive drunk, according to reports.

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