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São Paulo Combats Drink Driving During Busy Holiday Season

(New York, USA)–São Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas today launched a new mass media campaign to prevent drink driving during the busy Easter holiday season.

The month-long campaign, “Never Drink and Drive,” aims to reach the 8 million drivers in the city through television, radio, social media, billboards and in movie theaters, using a media placement budget of USD $1 million—the largest city contribution within Vital Strategies’ road safety work to date. The campaign will be supported by a citywide enforcement effort, including the use of breathalyzers to test drivers at checkpoints.

More than 800 people died on São Paulo’s streets in 2018. Since 2012, Brazil has had zero tolerance for any amount of alcohol in the blood as measured by breathalyzers. Drivers may refuse the test, but will be subjected to the same penalties imposed on drivers under the influence of alcohol.

The campaign was developed with Vital Strategies’ support through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS).

“Road traffic crashes are responsible for more than 1.35 million deaths around the world each year and are entirely preventable,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies. “While São Paulo’s work to save lives has shown positive results, action is still needed to end these senseless deaths and injuries. We are proud to partner with cities like São Paulo that are committed to making its roads safer.”

“Drink driving in São Paulo is ripping families apart,” said Pedro de Paula, Vital Strategies Brazil Director and BIGRS São Paulo Initiative Coordinator. “In the past five years, the city has seen a 32 percent reduction in road fatalities, but action is still needed to end these preventable deaths. We know that media campaigns that show the real-life consequences of drinking and driving, when paired with intense enforcement, can deter people from drink driving and save lives, and we applaud Mayor Covas for taking action to address this deadly behavior.”

About the campaign

The campaign features the story of Rodrigo, a young man who stops at a bar after work with colleagues. After drinking a beer, Rodrigo begins to drive home and approaches an intersection where a young woman, a college student, is crossing the street. Not able to fully concentrate on driving, Rodrigo hits the young woman, killing her. Because of Rodrigo’s decision to drive after drinking, she will never finish college, get married, or have children like she had dreamed. Rodrigo must now live with his guilt.

This campaign illustrates how even small amounts of alcohol can impair driving, resulting in potentially deadly crashes. Pedestrians account for 41 percent of those killed on São Paulo’s streets.

The new ad is available to view at Campaign materials are available upon request from

São Paulo is one of 10 cities that is implementing a variety of measures proven to save lives on the roads through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety. Vital Strategies is an implementing partner of the initiative, providing technical assistance to the city for the media campaign.

About the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) works with the world’s leading road safety organizations to implement road safety activities and coordinate with in-country governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. BIGRS places an emphasis on achieving outcomes, and on using high-quality monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to continually assess progress.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat. For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health and road safety expert, please contact