Pub toilets tell drinkers to be a gent and leave the car behind

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In what it claims may be a world first, New Zealand is to place drink-drive billboards inside urinals that will be activated when men relieve themselves.

The advertising campaign is aimed at dissuading the country's hard-drinking males from driving home after one beer too many. By the end of this month, nearly 260 pubs will display the adverts in their men's lavatories.

The unorthodox concept was dreamt up by the Land Transport Safety Authority, which says that most drink-drive crashes are caused by men. Andy Knackstead, a spokesman for the authority, said yesterday: "What better time and place to get the drink-driving message across than in a pub?"

The heat-activated billboards show the silhouette of two cars side by side, with the headline: "Which car will you piss off in tonight?" When urine reaches the advert, two images are exposed: one of a crumpled car and one of a taxi, intact. The first bears the words: "If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot." The second states: "If you drink then don't drive, you're a bloody legend."

Men will not need any particular expertise, as Mr Knackstead explained. "It's a fairly large ad, so they're not going to have to have an acute sense of aim." The safety authority has also taken into account what it calls "urinal etiquette", noting that most men head for a corner spot. The posters have thus been placed inside discreetly located urinals.

Last year 131 people were killed in crashes caused by alcohol, up from 108 in 2003. Drunk drivers killed or injured 580 of their own passengers last year, as well as 310 occupants of other vehicles and 45 pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr Knackstead told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "When men go to the pub, they've got to go to the toilet, and the fact is that 80 per cent of people involved in drink-driving crashes in New Zealand are men. So this is really about targeting them with these messages when they need it most, in a way that's a bit of fun and not lecturing."

He said he did not believe that the tactics had been employed anywhere else. "It's the first urine-activated ad, as far as I'm aware. So it's definitely something of a first for us," he said.

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