Ventura County Focuses DUI Prevention on Young Women Drivers

OXNARD, Calif. – Ventura County Behavioral Health has announced that it has received $258,000 in additional funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety to develop media for DUI prevention.

The “Shifting the Trend to Reverse” grant is aimed at developing a new and innovative campaign highlighting the issue of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs for female drivers.

Women make up 50 percent of the population and, since the early 1990s, women drivers have been increasing their ranks. Licensed female drivers now outnumber male drivers. With that rise, the proportion of DUI arrests have more than doubled in California, from 10.6 percent in 1989, to 23.4 percent in 2013.

“Our goal is to utilize media with pro-female messaging, helping women to make positive health and life decisions,” said Patrick Zarate, Chief Operations Officer for Behavioral Health. “Too often, women are skipped over or demeaned when it comes to advertising about driving, and old stereotypes persist about female drivers. So, we want to normalize talking about impaired driving risks, and to make sure everyone gets home safe.”

While the number of women drivers increases, impaired driving prevention messaging continues to focus on young adult male drivers. In many media campaigns, drinking, using drugs, and driving is treated as “a guy thing,” while attention to female drivers dwindles. In a review of 35 impaired driving ads from around the world in 2015, MSN highlighted only three with women as potential drivers. Ventura County Behavioral Health wants to focus on local trends and reduce the number of all injury and fatal traffic collisions.

“This unique campaign aims to assist in making better decisions for drivers and their passengers before they get behind the wheel,” said David Tovar, Behavioral Health Grant Coordinator. “Sadly we have seen a number of avoidable DUI crashes in the county involving young female drivers under the influence in the past month. Our goal is to reverse these trends and reduce DUIs through social change.”

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