Got a Minute?

Campaign suggests targeting drivers in the one place all go—DMVs
By Kris Bevill | September 12, 2011

The Clean Fuels Foundation is in the formative stages of a nationwide education outreach program that will target drivers at the one place they all must go before they hit the road—the Department of Motor Vehicles. Burl Haigwood, director of program development for the Clean Fuels Foundation and program manager for the project, says the DMV Driver Education project provides a unique opportunity to encourage drivers to become aware of their vehicle’s fuel capabilities and to warn them of the dangers of fossil fuel use. “If DOT [Department of Transportation] and DMVs can work together on seat belts, distracted driving, aggressive driving, child safety seats, speed limits and voter registration, why can’t they work together on the driver’s right to know how gasoline and crude oil are impacting their personal lives?” he says. “A driver has a right to know that relying on oil has a personal impact on that driver. Our addiction to oil has an impact on every driver’s economic, environmental and national security.”

Local education efforts by ethanol producers are good, Haigwood says, but in order to have a real impact, a nationwide education campaign needs to be implemented. The DMV provides a perfect captive audience for ethanol education and providing drivers with that information can be done in a variety of ways, from questions on driving tests to flyers posted on the walls of the offices. The program will require time and money, however, and ethanol producers are being sought out to participate in the DMV project. “You can’t do it one at a time,” Haigwood says. “I’m not saying, don’t do what you’re doing. But when you look at your education and investment portfolio, how much are you putting on the DMV? Right now that investment is zero. We’re asking the ethanol industry and all stakeholders to ante up.”

A national education program has been difficult to launch so far, due mostly to misinformation campaigns being funded by the wealthy oil companies, Haigwood says. He also believes the federal government needs to become responsible for participating in order to own up to the renewable fuel standard it implemented. “They need to own it, and indoctrinate that law into their programs,” he says. 

—Kris Bevill