Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

2 out of 3



Implementer: The University of North Carolina, Highway Safety Research Center

Partners: United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; funding from the US Department of Education

Program Overview: 2 out of 3 was developed in an effort to reduce alcohol consumption among college students, with a long term objective to reduce alcohol related motor vehicle crashes. 

Program Design: The program used a social norms marketing approach in combination with blood alcohol concentration data collected from the target population during night time surveys. BAC data was used to create messaging aimed at correcting existing misperceptions regarding normative behavior among university students. For example: "Whether it's Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, 2 out of 3 UNC students return home with a .00 BAC."1 

Program messages were delivered through First Year Student Orientation Sessions ("CTOPS"), posters, and informational website, an activity booth and promotional character ("BAC Guy") placed at an annual campus event, guest lectures in graduate classes, presentation by professors willing to introduce materials, and coordination with existing campus alcohol programs.2

Evaluation: In 1997, BAC measurements were obtained from 1,786 students between 10 pm and 3 am. This initial measurement served as the program's baseline data, and was also used to create the program social norms messaging. BAC surveys were repeated in 1999 and 2002 following program implementation.

Key findings2:

  • Significant declines in the proportion of students with a non-zero BAC and the proportion with a BAC > 0.05
  • Measurable campaign awareness and belief of campaign messaging
  • Reductions in the average number of drinks reportedly consumed (on the night of the interview)
  • Decreases in the number of interview respondents classified as heavy drinkers and in self-reports of heavy drinking 

Program Website: http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/2outof3/


1. Foss, R. D., Marchetti, L. J., & Holladay, K. A. (2001). Development and evaluation of a comprehensive program to reduce drinking and impaired driving among college students (No. HS-809 396,).

2. Foss, R., Diekman, S., Goodwin, A., Bartley, C. (2003).Enhancing a norms program to reduce high-risk drinking among first year students. U.S. Department of Education.


Target Audience: University/young adults (18-21 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Media (including social media), Online/ Internet, University
Approach: Social Norms
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