December 15, 2002
Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Jackie Wittwer in her letter to editor on December 8th, asks, “Is anyone else bothered by the advertisement that states ‘4 out of 5 Montanans don’t drink and drive’? Would that be something to brag about?”

The statistic in question, ‘4 out of 5’ comes from the 2001 Montana Young Adult Alcohol Survey funded by the Montana Department of Transportation and used by MSU’s MOST of Us Campaign. This campaign seeks to increase the number of Montanans who don’t drink and drive by correcting the public misperception that DUI behavior is the norm, when in fact it is not. The campaign uses a science-based methodology called social norms theory, which has achieved statistically significant results in Montana and elsewhere with regard to decreasing the rate of drinking and driving, decreasing teen smoking, and increasing adult seatbelt use.

Research has demonstrated that by informing people that the majority of young adults in Montana prevent drinking and driving (they take away the keys from friends, use designated drivers, take taxis, or do not drink at all), we empower more people to make healthy decisions. Alternatively, if people believe that the majority of their peers engage in harmful behaviors, such as driving while impaired, then they will be more likely to do so upon occasion.

Visible law enforcement, stiff penalties and treatment for offenders are crucial elements for creating a safer environment. MOST of Us provides another component of this effort to increase the number of people who do not drink and drive.

I appreciate and share Ms. Wittwer’s position that any amount of impaired driving is unacceptable and should bother us all. The deadly combination of drinking and driving must stop. It has left scars on our community and demands that we work to provide the best methods for preventing this extremely serious behavior.

The work in front of us all is to make this statistic ‘5 out of 5’ don’t drink and drive.
How do we get there? We start from the truth that MOST of Us care.

Jeff Linkenbach, Ed.D.
Director, MOST of Us Prevent Drinking and Driving Campaign
P.O. Box 170520
Bozeman, MT 59717-0520