Each year, alcohol causes thousands and thousands of traffic deaths. Students in Zemun, Serbia took a unique creative approach to getting the message across that alcohol and driving don't mix.
When the Serbian Agency for Traffic Safety suggested that the Traffic Technical High School should take part in international project for road safety, the students didn’t need much convincing. Several of their fellow students had sadly died in a traffic accident a few years ago, and the students didn’t want to suffer such a tragedy again – so they were ready to do their part!
They organized a debate among the students to brainstorm ideas for their initiative and decided to focus on the problem of young people who drive under the influence of alcohol. Last year in Serbia, 684 persons died in traffic accidents, and in most cases the accidents occurred because the drivers were intoxicated.
They also chose to address this issue because many people in their area drink alcohol every day. Near the school, there are several pubs where students from the school are the main consumers. All of this together made the students’ initiative clear, and revealed the key campaign message: “Don’t drink, love life.”
The team of students began planning their initiative, which had various steps.
For the first part, they worked with the local police force to give lectures that were focused on safe behavior in traffic with a special emphasis on drinking and driving. About 500 students attended the lectures. They also developed a seminar, ''Traffic safety in the local community'', which took place from 18 to 20 April. Professor Biljana Kordić presented the project ''Don't Drink, Love Life” and encouraged local representatives to take steps to prevent tragic events in the schools and the community. The seminar gathered around 200 road safety experts and representatives.
The students also used drama to get their message across, and created a short video as well as a series of live theatre performances. The video was created in a local pub, where the students portrayed a common night out for young people with a dramatic ending that will make viewers think twice before drink driving. In less than a month, this video received over 600 views on YouTube and has also been viewed thousands of times through Facebook.
The theatre performances took place from 8 to 12 April, when the group went on tour to all of the schools in the area for a total of about 1000 audience members. Besides the school tour, they performed in the Zemun central square for an audience of over 1000 people at a single show! Based on the reactions and comments of viewers and audience members, the students are sure that their work has made an impact.
Finally, on 16 April, the students were invited to the national radio station in Belgrade. Students Jovana Gavrilović and Mile Bjeloš, and professor Biljana Kordić went to the station as representatives of the Don’t Drink, Love Life project to talk about their actions and objectives, and explain why drink driving needs to be more visibly addressed in Serbia. While they don’t have exact numbers, a large part of the Serbian population would have been tuned in to the station to hear the interview.
Altogether, the students made a huge effort which was both well-organized and highly creative. Most importantly, their important message was taken to heart by people all over Serbia – and even beyond!