BOB drink-driving campaign under threat

Summary

As road safety becomes a regional responsibility, the popular drink-driving campaign BOB could be phased out in Flanders, with the mobility minister seeking ideas for a new campaign

“A strong brand”

The annual drink-drive campaign BOB could be on the verge of disappearing. BOB – the notional designated driver who stays sober all evening to get his or her friends home safely – could be phased out in Flanders after a 20-year run.

Road safety is one of the matters that passed from being a federal responsibility to a regional one under the most recent state reforms. Last weekend, Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts was reported to have contacted a number of advertising agencies to ask them to submit ideas for a new drink-driving campaign.

BOB is “a strong brand,” according to Weyts’ party colleague Jan Jambon, who as federal interior minister would have been in charge of the campaign without the reforms. “The Flemish region is organising a public tender, and I think the strength of the brand will be one of the criteria they will be judging. I think anyone who wants to do better will have their work cut out for them.”

Whatever Flanders decides, the Brussels-Capital Region is determined to carry on with the BOB campaign, according to secretary of state for road safety Bianca Debaets.

The region would go ahead in co-operation with the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (BIVV), one of the co-owners of the BOB brand. “The BOB campaign has been around for 20 years, and the concept has proved its worth in Belgium,” said Debaets, “as well as in other countries, like Germany and the Netherlands. I think it’s important to create coherence and for all of us to move in the same direction.”

BOB was also defended by Bart Somers, mayor of Mechelen. “I would find it incomprehensible if the BOB campaigns, which save lives, were to vanish because of some discussion over divisions,” he said.

Photo courtesy Knowledge/Wikimedia Commons

Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year