Stars help drive message home

Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, third from left, and Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant with Suidooster stars Simone Biscombe and Irshaad Ally.

Alcohol remains one of the key causes of death and injury on our roads, and the provincial government has been working with the makers of a local soapie to change that.

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant and Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo visited the Suidooster studio’s in Montague Gardens on Friday August 19, to get a look behind the scenes that they hope have been helping to change the public’s attitudes about drinking and driving.

The Safely Home group, MediaShop and the Suidooster scriptwriters worked together to develop a storyline over several episodes in which one of the Suidooster characters was caught drinking and driving.

The episodes were meant to show the dangers of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol .

“The main idea was to demonstrate the potential of DUI to have profoundly negative consequences – legal ones, crash-related ones, as well as highlighting impacts on family and financial life,” said Mr Grant.

“By dramatising the negative impact that DUI can have on a familiar character, the key messages of ongoing road safety education and awareness campaigns were reinforced in a new way.”

Safely Home worked closely with Suidooster to refine ideas for the episodes and the storyline was produced, with input from provincial traffic law enforcement on certain scenes.

Real traffic and police officers also appeared in a number of scenes.

Filming went off without a hitch and the DUI storyline was broadcasted from the end of June until the end of July to coincide with the July Safely Home calendar which had a “Booze Free Roads” theme.

“Every day within our hospitals, we see the devastating impact alcohol and substance abuse has on the people we serve.

“Alcohol also remains a key risk factor for injuries from road traffic crashes experienced in the Western Cape and a major driver in injuries experienced as a result of interpersonal violence; one of the biggest contributors to the province’s quadruple burden of disease,” said Ms Mbombo.

Mr Grant said his department would continue to seek innovative ways to convey road safety messages to the public and ensure that fewer lives “are lost senselessly on our roads every day”.