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Drink, but don't drive? The alcohol industry’s involvement in global road safety

  • Hoe, Connie1
  • Taber, Niloufer1
  • Champagne, Sarah1
  • Bachani, Abdulgafoor M1
  • 1 Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, Department of International Health, Health Systems Program, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA , (United States)
Published Article
Health Policy and Planning
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Nov 21, 2020
DOI: 10.1093/heapol/czaa097
PMID: 33221890
PMCID: PMC7886444
PubMed Central


Drink-driving is a major cause of global road traffic fatalities, yet few countries have laws that meet international best practices. One possible reason is the alcohol industry’s opposition to meaningful policies that are perceived to directly threaten sales. Our primary objectives are to document alcohol industry involvement in global road safety policies and programmes and to critically evaluate the responses of public health and road safety communities to this involvement. Under the guidance of the Policy Dystopia Model, we used a mixed methods approach in which data were gathered from expert interviews and a mapping review of 11 databases, 5 watchdog websites and 7 alcohol industry-sponsored initiatives. Triangulation was used to identify points of convergence among data sources. A total of 20 expert interviews and 94 documents were analysed. Our study showed that the alcohol industry acknowledges that drink-driving is an issue but argues for solutions that would limit impact on sales, akin to the message ‘drink—but do not drive’. Industry actors have been involved in road safety through: (1) coalition coupling and decoupling, (2) information production and management, (3) direct involvement in policymaking and (4) implementation of interventions. Our study also shed light on the lack of cohesion within and among the public health and road safety communities, particularly with regard to the topics of receiving funding from and partnering with the alcohol industry. These results were subsequently used to adapt the Policy Dystopia Model as a conceptual framework that illustrates the ways in which the alcohol industry has been involved in global road safety. Several implications can be drawn from this study, including the urgent need to increase awareness about the involvement of the alcohol industry in road safety and to build a cohesive transnational alcohol control advocacy alliance to curb injuries and deaths related to drink-driving.

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