Most of us know someone, have heard stories, or have even been directly impacted by impaired driving. But just being aware of the very real dangers and tragedy wasn’t stopping the problem. In late 2017, alcohol-impaired accidents had reached a staggering all-time high in the state of Rhode Island. In an effort to change that, our team launched a creative advertising campaign to fight against impaired driving. This became known as The Ripple Effect.

Expanding our advertising far beyond the statistics, we wanted to show how the effects of a drunk driving crash ripple far past the accident itself. Parents, children, siblings, friends, first responders, medical personnel, and others in the community are all impacted by these ripples that are oftentimes unseen.

The number one mission to save lives has been accomplished, and that work continues to this day. This campaign has brought positive change to our state with fewer roadway fatalities, powerful victim storytelling, and education on the actions bystanders and everyday people can take to prevent deaths due to impaired driving.

Positive Change In Action: Fewer Roadway Fatalities 

The Ripple Effect campaign continues to help reduce the number of roadway fatalities. In 2018, Rhode Island’s impaired driving related deaths decreased by over 30%, from 84 deaths in 2017 to 58 deaths in 2018. And, decreased again in 2019, with 57 roadway fatalities. While these lives cannot be solely attributed to The Ripple Effect campaign, the collective efforts on preventing impaired driving have certainly made a positive impact.

Our strategic approach used creative advertising through paid media, paid social, outdoor, print collateral and the message was broadcasted statewide to success with over 100 million impressions.  In fact, a post-campaign study conducted in 2018 showed that 91% of Rhode Island drivers in both the pre- and post-campaign had read, seen, or heard a message on impaired driving or drunk driving enforcement.

The Impact of Emotional Storytelling

“Almost home. One exit away, so close to being safe.”

The story of Ryan Bourque is just one story from the campaign that will remain with you. Ryan was a newly appointed police officer who passed away on the final day of his probationary period. While driving home from work one evening, his car was hit head on by an impaired driver, and he died. Through the strength of his parents, his closest friends, and his co-workers, his story is told and a powerful message is shared.

One of the most influential quotes, spoken by Ryan’s mother, Lee Bourque, brings a powerful message to light. “We just hope and pray that something will change people’s hearts. And if sharing our pain is the only way to make that happen, then I would do it gladly.”

There are thousands of stories like this. Even out of tragedy, the ripples of our lives continue, expand, and never really end. However, personal storytelling contributes to a positive change.

Be The Change

The emotional storytelling has taken place, been heard, and has been successful, but now it was time to take action. So what can bystanders do when it comes to preventing drunk driving? What can you do?

People have a tendency to think that since they made it home safely before, that they can drink and drive again and they’ll be fine. This is a false perception, a sad and irresponsible excuse to put lives besides just your own in danger.

Dr. Orchowski in the campaign video Everyday Hero states it perfectly. “Maybe drunk driving continues to happen because not enough people are standing up to say something about it.” It doesn’t matter if you’re with friends and loved ones, new acquaintances, or even strangers. Say something. Those few words and suggestions not to drive after drinking could save someone’s life. It’s the small gestures. The good-natured thoughts. That’s what being an everyday hero is all about.

The Ripple Effect has evolved from emotional storytelling to the actions bystanders and the everyday individual can do to prevent deaths from impaired driving. The fight against impaired driving is ongoing and won’t stop until there are zero fatalities as a result of impaired driving, but we’re proud to say this campaign is creating positive change one day at a time.