Michigan installs talking urinal cakes to combat drunk driving
By C.C. Weiss
July 5, 2012
The United States celebrated its independence yesterday, and one state turned to a unique tactic for fighting the drunk driving that unfortunately goes hand in hand with major holidays. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning has teamed up with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association toward putting talking urinal cakes into restaurants and bars throughout several counties in the state. The electronic sanitary discs provide an on-the-spot reminder not to drive after drinking, using both written and motion-activated audio messages.
Imagine standing there over the urinal, draining the last pint and a half with your world free and exposed. You're a few drinks in and reeling from a bit of a buzzy haze. All of the sudden, a woman's voice comes from out of nowhere and reminds you to get on the horn and call a cab home. If you weren't already doing so, you might just pee yourself.
"Did that buxom beauty with the busty red blouse follow me in here?" you question aloud in your most hopeful voice.
You shove your business back into your pants, wetting the denim just a splash, and turn violently from side to side. No one. After carefully bending down and looking for feet under every stall, you come to the only possible conclusion: You just got a serving of advice from the friggin' toilet. That'll leave an impression.
Michigan's move, which it admits isn't the first of its kind, may be a bit of a goofy publicity stunt, but it seems to have the potential to get at least a few drinkers' thinking twice while creating a greater conversation throughout the state and country. Family, friends, public service announcements and government officials have been repeating the same "don't drink and drive" message since it first became a socially recognized problem. Yet people don't listen and continue to drink and drive.
While a voice from the urinal may not be the most well spoken or astute entity to relay the message, and many will probably just laugh it off, it could get at least a few people rethinking their transportation home and/or the amount they're drinking. After all, does anyone really want to be dumber than a toilet?
Using the new anti-drunk driving prompt solely for urinals may seem a bit sexist (the ladies don't pee in urinals, last we checked), but according to Michigan State Police statistics, men are far more likely to drink and drive than women. The agency reports that men accounted for more than 80 percent of drinking drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal accidents last year and notes statistics that show men make up nearly 75 percent of drunk driving arrests.
The chirping urinal cakes are part of a greater statewide Fourth of July crackdown on drunk drivers. State, county and local law enforcement will be executing additional drunk driving patrols through the weekend.