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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 00:34 GMT
Xbox games tackle drink driving
Anti-drink driving message in computer game
The virtual billboards will carry the Safer Scotland logo
Anti-drink driving adverts are to be inserted into computer games amid concern at the number of youngsters who consume alcohol before driving.

Police said they had caught almost 150 people under the age of 25 in their annual festive drink driving blitz.

The Scottish Government is to spend 10,000 on adverts on the virtual billboards within Xbox 360 games.

Campaigners said it was vital to look beyond conventional methods of communicating with young people.

The adverts will be seen by Scottish Xbox 360 gamers playing the online versions of titles including Need for Speed: Carbon, Project Gotham Racing 4 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2008.

If the trial is successful, the same technology could be used to deliver a wide range of road safety messages.

It is innovative, it is new, and it is far removed from the more traditional methods we have been using
Stewart Stevenson
Transport Minister

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said the innovative initiative was a "huge opportunity" to get the anti-drink driving message to a new audience.

Mr Stevenson said: "With statistics showing that road deaths, particularly among young people, are continuing to rise, it is clear we must look at new ways of getting road safety messages across.

"This is exactly the kind of initiative we should be trying.

"It is innovative, it is new, and it is far removed from the more traditional methods we have been using. I believe that is what we need if we are to reverse the number of Scots families suffering the tragedy of a loved one being lost."

More than 70% of 15 to 24 year olds in the UK have a gaming console in their home.

The Scottish Government said the adverts would be non-intrusive and subtle, while still getting the message across "loud and clear."

Added hazards

Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said he was "delighted" the project was going live.

He said: "We need to look beyond the conventional methods of addressing key road safety issues which affect young people.

"I believe that positioning of the drink-drive message in online games will serve as an ever present reminder to young Scots about the consequences. The online message could not be any simpler 'Don't risk it.'"

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said the roads are dangerous enough for young and inexperienced motorists without the added hazards of driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

Chief Constable John Vine, chairman of ACPOS road policing, said: "It is alarming that despite all our messages warning of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, young people in particular are failing to pay attention."

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