When it comes to getting the public’s attention about drinking and driving, the S.C. Highway Patrol is speaking a language everyone can understand — emoji.
The patrol kicked off its Sober or Slammer! campaign Tuesday with the help of emoji advertising with DUI messages on ice boxes, gas pumps, billboards and box trucks, according to a S.C. Highway patrol news release.
Sgt. Bob Beres of the S.C. Highway Patrol found himself the star of a new promotional video the patrol released to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving, and the patrol’s increased attention to the issue as Labor Day nears.
In the video, Beres pulls over an impaired driver in a emoji police cruiser.
The alternative form of communication is nothing new to Beres, who frequently uses emojis to engage people on Twitter.
“It all started during the floods last year,” Beres said. “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.”
Beres called the emojis a “universal language” and “puzzle” that his followers on the social media site like to debunk.
“My mother is Hungarian and she can figure them out,” Beres said. “It almost seems like if I don’t put one out every other day, people will text or tweet me to do one.”
Troopers will be increasing efforts to crack down on drunk driving and reduce DUI-related traffic deaths across the state, according to S.C. Highway Patrol press release. With the help of local law enforcement, increased enforcement on roadways will begin Aug. 19 and end Sept. 5.
The agency reports 199 roadway fatalities so far this summer compared to 231 motorists during the summer of 2015 - a 14 percent decrease, the release said.
The patrol hopes that by speaking the language of social media, that the number will continue to fall.
“The use of emojis has taken our safety messages from a virtual world to a broader audience,” Col. Mike Oliver said. “This concept has put us in touch with an important, and sometimes difficult to reach, segment of the population: young drivers.”
Motorists who see someone they suspect is driving impaired can call *HP or *47.