Highway Patrolman Uses Emojis To Promote Sober Driving In New PSA

By Seth Ferranti 08/19/16

The Sober or Slammer! campaign is being spearheaded by a South Carolina highway patrolman to combat drunk driving.

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Highway Patrolman Uses Emojis To Promote Sober Driving In New PSA
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In preparation for this year’s Labor Day weekend festivities, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, together with local law enforcement, has fashioned a new sober driving campaign that's getting the message across with cartoon emojis.

As summer comes to an end, highway patrolmen are using the campaign to crack down on drunk driving in the hopes that it will reduce DUI arrests, and more importantly, DUI-related fatalities and accidents in the state. The campaign to raise awareness, billed as the Sober or Slammer! campaign, began using emojis on billboards earlier this summer and now continues with a television PSA featuring South Carolina highway patrolman, Sgt. Bob Beres. Trooper Bob, as he is known on Twitter, has been spearheading the campaign. 

“It all started during the floods last year,” Beres told The Island Packet in an interview. “We were putting pictures out of people who were going around the barricade and they weren’t adhering to our message. So, we went with emojis and it really took off.”

He says that emojis are a visual, “universal language” that everyone can understand, and he has found a receptive audience on social media. “My mother is Hungarian and she can figure them out. It almost seems like if I don’t put one out every other day, people will text or tweet me to do one,” he said.

The new television PSA begins with two men out partying and drinking beer. When they decide to take the party on the road, their inebriated state leads to them getting pulled over and the driver getting arrested. At first, parts of the video are illustrated with emojis, but it then turns into a real-life situation with real cars and a real police officer, the aforementioned Sgt. Beres.

The overall message of the campaign is: beer + car = arrest. “The emoji commercial is lighthearted in the beginning but the end of it's serious,” Beres said. “There’s an educational side of it and an enforcement side of it. We're encouraging the public, when they see a drunk driver, to dial *HP.”

Typically, summertime leads to increased accidents and is one of the deadliest seasons for driving, according to law enforcement. Sgt. Beres told The Island Packet that South Carolina police have already arrested over 10,000 people this year for drunk driving.

“The use of emojis has taken our safety messages from a virtual world to a broader audience,” Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said in a press release. “This concept has put us in touch with an important and sometimes difficult-to-reach segment of the population—younger drivers.”

The Sober or Slammer! campaign is a part of the larger, national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" program orchestrated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with law enforcement all over the nation participating, attempting to cut down on highway and DUI fatalities.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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