Lesson Plans

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Heavy traffic on a highway into central Jakarta. This scene is typical in many of Asia's rapidly developing urban centers. Image by Kristianto Purnomo. Indonesia 2013.

Jakarta road block. Image by Kristianto Purnomo. Indonesia 2013.

Around midnight in Cape Town, a call came in for an overturned vehicle. The four passengers escaped from the wreckage easily. It took the jaws-of-life to free the pinned driver. Image by Peter Sawyer. South Africa, 2013.

A pile of Castle lager bottles recovered from the overturned Mazda. A bystander said, “There is the cause of the accident, those cold ones.” Image by Peter Sawyer. South Africa, 2013.

Carly Smith (lower left), a paramedic for ER24, talks to the trapped driver in the Mazda. Image by Peter Sawyer. South Africa, 2013.

The driver of this car swerved to avoid something he saw in the road. He hit a light pole (foreground) instead. The car rolled, but he sustained only minor injuries. He admitted that he had “had a few drinks.” Image by Peter Sawyer. South Africa, 2013.


By the end of this lesson, you will be able to analyze and cite textual evidence in order to write informative text explaining the dangers of drunk driving.

Introducing the Lesson:

Today’s lesson will explore the dangers of driving under the influence. As part of the lesson, you will read texts from the Pulitzer Center's "Roads Kill" project. 

The first article by Pulitzer Center senior editor Tom Hundley and Pulitzer Center alum Tom McCarey mentions drunk driving in the context of ways countries can fix the issue of traffic fatalities. The second article by Tom Hundley, entitled "Roads Kill: Quick Facts from Around the World," discusses traffic policies and road safety statistics from various countries. Read the excerpts about the United States, the Philippines and Brazil. The third and final article by Pulitzer Center advisor Peter Sawyer focuses on drunk driving in South Africa.

These articles will articulate the universal dangers surrounding drunk driving.


Discuss your answers to the following questions with a partner. Be prepared to share your conclusions with the class.

  1. Make a list of reasons why driving under the influence is dangerous.
  2. Despite these listed reasons, why do you think somebody would choose to drive under the influence?
  3. What do you think the reprecussions should be for driving under the influence? Why?

Introducing the Resources:

After reading each article, answer the accompanying comprehension questions.

After reading all three articles, use evidence from the articles to write your responses to the following analysis questions on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. In recent decades, why did the rate of road fatalities decrease in developed countries but not in developing countries?
  2. Why is drunk driving a difficult problem to resolve?
  3. In your opinion, why does Africa have the highest rate of road fatalities?

Extension Activities:

1. Imagine you are spearheading a campaign to raise public awareness of fatalities caused by drunk driving.

  • Create a Twitter hashtag for your campaign.
  • Write a tweet using the hastag. Be sure to include an image with the tweet.

2. Write a blog post perusading readers not to drink and drive. Be sure to include evidence from at least one Pulitzer Center article.

Educator Notes: 

In this lesson plan, in line with common core standards, students will investigate educational resources and write about the dangers of drunk driving. Students will independently read global news articles and design a mock campaign addressing the issue of driving under the influence.


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. 


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

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