Michigan combats drunk drivers with talking urinal cakes

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urinal cakes

If these urinal cakes could only talk... They'd say 'don't drink and drive!'Image: indi.ca/Flickr/CC BY

The state of Michigan is trying out a unique method of combating drunk driving over the fourth of July holiday. Talking urinal cakes that warn “users” not to drive drunk are being distributed to the men’s room of about 200 bars and restaurants across the state.

Safety message ‘number one’

Besides a “don’t drink and drive” message printed on the cake, they are also contain a recorded message in a female voice that is “motion activated.” Oh, they also make the men’s restroom smell clean and fresh.

Standing room only

The urinal cakes are being distributed to establishments in Wayne, Bay, Ottawa and Delta counties. Men’s restrooms are being targeted because, according to Melody Kindraka, of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, men are three times more likely than women to drive drunk.

Urinal cake messages

Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan OHSP, said in a statement:

“While this message isn’t new, the method of delivery certainly is. Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking, we hope everyone takes the message to heart.”

However, in a video posted by the Washington Post, Kindraka said the delivery method was not entirely new. Although no specific states were mentioned, she said:

“We are not the first state to do this, this is the first time we’ve deployed it in Michigan, but we do know some other states regionally have used similar messaging.”

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Part of national effort

The move comes from a partnership between the OSHP and the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association. It is part of a national effort to lessen drunk driving statistics over the Fourth of July holiday. The cakes costs about $21 each and last for around 90 days. The effort was entirely funded by the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Washington Post video had on-the-street reactions to the vocal air fresheners. One man said he thought it was a good idea that could help save lives. Another said, “oh, man, I can get that from my wife, come on!”

A serious issue

We all know drunk driving is a serious issue. According to the Center for Disease Control, on average, one person dies every 48 minutes in an alcohol-related crash in the U.S. However, whether this out-of-the-box messaging will have an impact remains to be seen.

Any man whose had a few too many is bound to make at least one stop at the “porcelain oracle,” so perhaps it has merit. However, how many men will take the message seriously and how many will be irritated by the unsolicited “nagging,” like man mentioned in the previous paragraph? Could that perhaps lead to some driving tipsy in defiance? Intoxicated people, by definition, do not have the clearest judgment.

‘The Young Turks: Talking urinal cakes’


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