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Texas Dept. of Transportation enlists mobile to discourage drinking and driving

Texas Dept. of Transportation

The RideFinder mobile site

The Texas Department of Transportation is leveraging text messaging and the mobile Web in a new campaign to deter college-age adults from driving under the influence of alcohol.

The “Who’s Driving Tonight?” campaign includes a mobile site where users can find a variety of transportation options based on their location, including cab numbers, limo companies and bus routes. Signs on college campuses and in other locations encourage college-age adults to text a keyword to a short code for a link to site.

“Our target audience is tethered to their cell phones--they don’t leave home without them,” said Kenna Williams, s enior associate and interactive supervisor at Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing , Austin, TX.

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“Mobile marketing gives TxDOT the opportunity to connect with young adults while they are drinking and at a critical point of decision,” she said.

“We wanted to empower this at-risk audience to makes smart choices by making it easy to find a sober ride.”

Sober rides
Young adults are often the worst offenders when it comes to drinking and driving. At the same, these consumers are among the heaviest users of mobile phones, so building a safe rides campaign around mobile makes a lot of sense.

The Texas Department of Transportation enlisted 3Seventy and Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing to create the campaign, which is focused on deterring this audience from drinking and driving by promoting the importance of planning a sober ride.

The RideFinder mobile site, soberrides.org, is being promoted via online ads, mobile ads, social media outreach, SMS text messaging, and out-of-home media on college campuses and in bars.

On the site, users can find location-based transportation options, including cab numbers, limo companies, bus routes, and even pedicabs.

The campaign to promote the RideFinder site launched Labor Day weekend and goes through the first of November. It will be followed up with another campaign during Spring Break.

Location-based ride options
The RideFinder site asks users to key in their location or, if they do not know where they are, it uses location-based technology to find where they are. It then provides a list of the four or five closest cab and limousine companies as well as pedicabs that they can call for a ride. Users can click to call any of these numbers.

The site also pulls a user’s list of contacts so they can easily click to call a friend to ask for a ride.

If the user would prefer to use a bus, the site automatically populates Google Maps based on their location so they can see bus routes, the nearest stops and the bus schedule.

During the first month of the campaign, 6,200 users were served a safe ride after going to the site.

“This is a great example of a mobile campaign that reaches college students on the go and in a time of potential need,” said Carrie Chitsey, CEO of 3Seventy, Austin, TX.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

Associate Editor Chantal Tode covers advertising, messaging, legal/privacy and database/CRM. Reach her at chantal@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Messaging, Texas Department of Transportation, mobile Web, text messaging, safe rides, 3Seventy, Sherry Matthews, Carrie Chitsey, Kenna Williams, mobile marketing, mobile

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