Speak Your Mind: Change The Conversation

OTTAWA, November 17, 2010 – It’s time to Change the Conversation! The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), arrive alive DRIVE SOBER and Student Life Education Company (SLEC) are pleased to launch a new national education program to reduce impaired driving, Change the Conversation.

The program is a complete, research-based resource designed to help communities across Canada increase their understanding of the problem, how it has changed in the past 20 years, and how it can be addressed.

“The impaired driving problem has changed considerably over the last couple of decades and much progress has been achieved. Now, as we head into Canada’s first National Year of Road Safety in 2011, new approaches and strategies are needed to address persistent offenders, i.e. those who just have not gotten the message” says TIRF President and CEO, Robyn Robertson.

Change the Conversation is a joint venture involving three recognized charities – the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, arrive alive DRIVE SOBER and the Student Life Education Company. Funding for this initiative was provided by the Brewers Association of Canada.

Its goals are to disseminate facts about impaired driving with the public and interested professionals, and to create a positive forum for individuals to share their reasons for choosing not to drink and drive and what they are doing to prevent it.

“A good example is the common misconception that drinking and driving is a regular occurrence – that many people do it,” explains Anne Leonard, Executive Director at arrive alive DRIVE SOBER. “The reality however, is that only a small percentage of the population continue to drink and drive with alcohol levels over the legal limit, but this minority causes a lot of harm.”

Armed with contemporary research, the program is a response to the sometimes outdated, misquoted and fragmented information that is provided to the public. More importantly, the program shares practical strategies that the public and youth can rely on to promote behaviour change and prevent drunk driving in their own communities.

Notes Ms. Roberston, “Recent research shows that shame and negative message strategies can be ineffective and in some cases they can actually increase the unwanted behaviour. This program was designed to focus on the positive. It emphasizes that the majority doesn’t drive after drinking and encourages constructive and informed discussion about the issue.”

The program’s website, www.changetheconversation.ca, is structured in a question/answer format as a tool that communities, educators, parents and youth can rely upon to learn about the problem and what they can do to prevent it.

The program also includes five PSAs that have been distributed to radio stations across Canada to run from now until April 1st, 2011. Each PSA touches on a little known fact about impaired driving, for example, almost one in five killed by drunk drivers are passengers. A series of posters reflecting the PSAs’ messages are available through the program’s website.

New fact sheets, brochures and other resources that agencies can use to inform their efforts to target the problem and promote solutions will be made available through the Change the Conversation website. All materials are available to communities and can be personalized for local use.

Through the program’s social media, youth, community groups, parents are all encouraged to “Speak Your Mind” and share what they’re doing with friends and with their communities across Canada to help others.

About the program partners:


Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

About Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER®

Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER®, in collaboration with key stakeholders and community partners, identifies, implements and supports effective initiatives to eradicate impaired driving. Its mission is to provide leadership and programs to eliminate impaired driving in Ontario and enable people and communities to share resources and information that will prevent injuries and save lives. Visit us online at www.arrivealive.org.

About Student Life Education Company

The Student Life Education Company is a registered charity established in 1986. It is the only national organization dedicated to the education of Canadian students nationwide on alcohol awareness and other health issues. The mission of The Student Life Education Company is to be the leader in the promotion of healthy decisions on the use or non-use of alcohol and other health issues. Visit us online at www.studentlifeeducation.com.

About the sponsor:

Brewers Association of Canada

The Brewers Association of Canada is proud to be the main funding partner for the Change the Conversation program. The Brewers Association and its members have a number of existing campaigns and initiatives designed to educate and provide alternative methods of transportation, such as Molson Coors’ 1-888-TAXIGUY campaign, or Labatt’s Make a Plan campaign. The Brewers also partners with the Centre for Responsible Drinking, a national source of information on alcohol-related matters, including drinking and driving. Visit us at www.brewers.ca.