An exploration of approaches to the implementation of drinking and driving policies in South African universities.
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Drinking and driving has always been a problem amongst university students. As Rocha-Silva (1981:1) states, drinking and driving accidents are one of the biggest problems that many universities internationally and locally have to deal with. The high level of drinking and driving among students in South African universities has prompted many universities to implement strategies to address the problem, such as the "Buddy Bus" campaign. The Department of Transport (DoT) has also implemented strategies such as the Arrive Alive campaign and Asiphephe to try and reduce the problem of drinking and driving in the country at large. However, studies on drinking and driving behaviour according to Nuntsu (2004) still point to an increase in the number of young people who engage in drinking and driving despite the number of diversified initiatives that have been implemented by educational institutions, communities and by various government bodies to counteract it. This has prompted this study in identifying the implementation approaches used by certain universities in South Africa in addressing drinking and driving among university students and the marketing strategies used to promote the drinking and driving policies. These universities included; the University of Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University and the University of Pretoria (Gauteng Province), University of KwaZulu-Natal campuses (Howard College, Westville campus and Pietermaritzburg campus), and the University of Zululand (KwaZulu-Natal province), the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape (Western Cape province). The method used for this study was qualitative method and the data was collected using face to face in-depth interviews. Both purposive and quota sampling was used to select the sample for the study. The findings showed that all the institutions under investigation had anti-drinking and driving programmes and campaigns such as "Buddy Bus" campaign and utilised music concerts with young famous musicians promoting anti-drinking and driving messages to students. However, they did not have formal, codified drinking and driving policies. Both the "top-down and the "bottom-up" approaches to policy implementation were identified in the institutions investigated. The "top-down" approach is implemented by the people at the top level, for example, in universities the management set the rules and the students have to abide by them. The "bottom-down" approaches are managed by students. The students decide on how the policies should be implemented. This approach is more flexible as it allows negotiation between students and management. The "bottom-up" approach appeared to be more "popular" than the "top-down" approach as it was adopted by seventy percent of the institutions. These institutions saw the "bottom-up" approach as appropriate in implementing the drinking and driving programmes as it allowed the student organisations (street-level bureaucrats) to have input on the policy implementation process. Indeed it also allows for negotiation and consensus building. The sociological theories, e.g. social learning theory, used in the study to explain students drinking were also evident in the findings with some universities adopting some of their suggested preventative measures which include the emphasis on negative social consequences of alcohol use and employment of popular peer role models to discourage alcohol use. However, the availability theory appeared to be more relevant in addressing drinking and driving behaviour, because for students to stop drinking and driving, alcohol should not be available to them - the premise of the theory. It was also evident from the findings that although there are programmes/strategies being implemented by the universities and DoT to address students drinking and driving, this deviant behaviour is still rife amongst the students. There is a need for more interventions from the universities, communities and DoT, all working together in developing and implementing drinking and driving strategies. There is also a need for theory-driven research on this "deviant behaviour", especially studies that use sociological theories to explain this "deviant behaviour" and the factors contributing to it. This will assist in providing important information and an understanding of why students engage in drinking and driving and also help to explain this deviant behaviour using sociological theories. The results of this theory-driven research will aid in highlighting important issues that need to be taken into consideration when designing drinking and driving programmes/policies at universities. The findings show that there is a need for approaches that will equip young people with life skills such as decision-making and peer pressure resistance skills which will allow them to resist the temptation of drinking and driving. Future investigations should thus focus on an evaluation of the drinking and driving strategies and the approaches used to implement them so that new and improved strategies can be developed.
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