Adverts target drivers' vanity

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The Government yesterday targeted the guilt and vanity of young people in its new Christmas campaign against drink-driving .

The message, more subtle than in recent years, features a television advertisement in which an actress portrays a young woman badly scarred in an accident the year before by her drink-driving boyfriend. The woman, played by Isobel Raine, is looking into a mirror and taking off her make- up after a night out with her boyfriend. "Anyway, we're still together, although sometimes I think he's only with me because he feels guilty," she says. "Then again, I wonder if I'm only with him because I'm scared I won't get anyone else."

Under fire from critics who claim that the number of drink-related accidents have stopped falling, John Bowis, the Road Safety Minister, said yesterday they were following research in tackling the main group of offenders - young men aged 17 to 24.

Mr Bowis said that young males seemed less concerned whether they killed themselves in an accident. "The research indicates that what does affect them is the thought that they may maim or scar someone else - for example a girlfriend ... The woman featured in our campaign has the everlasting reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving."

Ms Raine, who wore make-up depicting a heavily scarred forehead and cheek, said that in a "vain" society, the prospect of facial disfigurement played heavily on young people's lives. "It brings home the point that scars are not just for Christmas - they are for life."

The concern for the Government is that despite the success of last year's award-winning campaign - featuring a brain-damaged youth who had been egged on by his mates to have "one more" - the number of drink-related road deaths appears to have levelled out. Last year, the number of deaths was 580, dramatically down from the 1985 number of 1,040, but 40 more than in 1994.