Computer gamers in Scotland will have government road-safety ads beamed on to their consoles in the new year.

Thousands of youngsters are expected to receive consoles for Christmas and the Scottish government has decided to spend £10,000 to reach them while they play.

Managed by Road Safety Scotland, the pilot will see anti-drink drive adverts beamed directly into XBOX 360 games across Scotland.

The gamers will see Billboard adverts within the actual game promoting the message, with officials hoping their innovative approach will see youngsters take notice.

"With statistics showing that road deaths, particularly among young people, are continuing to rise, it is clear we must look at new ways of getting road safety messages across," Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson said.

"This is exactly the kind of initiative we should be trying.

"It is innovative, it is new, and it is far removed from the more traditional methods we have been using. I believe that is what we need if we are to reverse the number of Scots families suffering the tragedy of a loved one being lost.

"Our road-safety initiatives are being heard, but there are some who are still ignoring those messages."

According to Scottish government officials 73 per cent of British 15- to 24-year-olds have access to a gaming console in their home and the new strategy is "non-intrusive, subtle, but the message can be seen in the background, loud and clear".

"We will monitor the results of this trial, but I hope it can be a success," Mr Stevenson added.

Michael McDonnell, the director of Road Safety Scotland, said the project was a good example of how campaigners and officials need "to look beyond the conventional methods of addressing key road safety issues which affect young people".

"I believe that positioning of the drink-drive message in online games will serve as an ever-present reminder to young Scots about the consequences of doing," he said.

"What many don't realise is that, when caught drink-driving, they will lose their licence - they're LOS 3RS - and the online message could not be any simpler - 'Don't risk it'."

Initially, only anti-drink-drive messages will appear on games such as Need for Speed: Carbon, Need for Speed ProStreet, Project Gotham Racing 4, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 and NBA Live.

If the trial proves successful, other government messages may be promoted in the same way.

24/12/2007 13:28:51