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‘Metal Coasters Made from Cars Wrecked in Drunk Driving Accidents’

Claim

A bar uses coasters made of metal from cars destroyed in drunk driving accidents.

Rating

Decontextualized

Reporting

A March 18 2021 Imgur post (“Stay Safe”) featured the following image, purportedly showing bar coasters made of metal salvaged from cars which were destroyed in drunk driving accidents:

Text on the top of the image read:

Local bar has metal coasters made from cars wrecked in drunk driving accidents for St. Patrick’s Day

The image showed what looked like a beer in the upper right corner. At the center, a battered, black metal coaster read:

THIS COASTER USED TO BE A CAR. THAT CAR NEVER MADE IT HOME

ARRIVEALIVE.ORG

No information about the date on which the image was captured, or where the “local bar” might be was included with the post. A reverse image search indicated the image was first crawled on March 18 2017; the second and third results directed back to Reddit and Imgur.

The first result directed to a March 17 2017 GlobalNews.ca article, “Toronto bar serves drinks on coasters made from cars that never made it home”:

“This coaster used to be a car.”

It’s a slogan confronting patrons on coasters at Toronto’s The Emmet Ray whiskey bar in an effort to keep them from driving home drunk for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

It’s all part of a campaign being coordinated by Arrive Alive, an organization that raises awareness of the risks of impaired driving.

The metal for the coasters came from cars that were involved in collisions, with the material provided by an auto body shop in Vancouver, Arrive Alive program director Michael Stewart told Global News.

GlobalNews.ca embedded a March 2017 Instagram post shared by the “local bar,” The Emmet Ray in Toronto, as well as a tweet from the Arrive Alive campaign’s Twitter account:

On March 17 2017, the same image (minus the first portion of text) was shared to Imgur in a post (“Coasters made from cars in drunk driving accidents”); it was reposted on March 21 2017 with the title “Neat.”

A 2018 post by the AToMiC Awards (a Canadian creative group with annual awards) commended the campaign as a “winner,” and provided information about its inception. AToMiC described Arrive Alive’s goal as “to spread awareness of this issue in order to prevent people from getting behind the wheel intoxicated,” and “to speak to people directly, the very moment they ordered their first drink,” adding that “Arrive Alive couldn’t be preachy or the message would be immediately tuned out.”

In part, AToMiC praised the campaign on the basis of its extensive media and social media attention in 2017:

The strategy to be impactful without being moralistic guided the creative look and feel of the coasters. Physically, they lacked polish. They were crumpled, scratched, and torn up — after all, they were made from car wrecks, and they didn’t want to hide that fact.

Even the copy on the coaster was matter-of-fact, lacking a call-to-action: “This coaster used to be a car. That car never made it home.” In essence, they spoke for themselves — and the target audience took notice. The pieces were immediately shared on social media by bar patrons. From there, the story spread across social media.

Over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Arrive Alive earned over four million free media impressions online, from such notable media outlets as Vice, Fox News, Yahoo!, Global, CTV, and Uproxx. The campaign was also covered on multiple nightly news broadcasts, including some of the most popular broadcasts in our target market of Toronto.

Additional images of the Arrive Alive coasters were shared by creative agency Ads of the World in April 2017:

On St. Patrick’s Day [2017], Arrive Alive and The Emmet Ray bar served coasters made from car wrecks to partiers as a sobering reminder to not drink and drive. On the coasters were laser-etched messages.

An iteration shared in March 2021 claimed that the coasters were “metal,” and “made from cars wrecked in drunk driving accidents.” Vice.com (and GlobalNews.ca) addressed sourcing the coaster material, via a Vancouver auto body shop and cars “involved in collisions”:

GlobalNews.ca: “The metal for the coasters came from cars that were involved in collisions, with the material provided by an auto body shop in Vancouver, Arrive Alive program director Michael Stewart told Global News.”

Vice.com: “Production for the coasters took place in Vancouver. There was a body shop that provided the car parts used to make the coasters—all the cars were involved in a collision. Another company took the material and cut up the parts into coaster shapes.”

Another news organization described the material for the Arrive Alive coasters as fiberglass, not metal. According to JD Power, most modern cars are primarily metal, glass, fiberglass, and plastic:

Windshields, side windows, “backlights” (the auto industry term for the rear window), rear-view mirrors, and interior mirrors all use glass. Some auto bodies and trim pieces use fiberglass, a plastic material reinforced by glass fibers … The fuel tanks in many of today’s vehicles are made of plastic, as are the body and trim pieces seen on virtually every car’s exterior. Inside the typical automobile, plastics are used even more extensively. Plastics make up nearly all the soft- and hard-trim pieces in the average car. Typically, a car’s dashboard, instruments, infotainment displays, seat padding, armrests, and consoles are all made of plastics of one type or another. Leather seating surfaces are often plastic-coated for added durability.

A March 2021 Imgur post featured a widely-shared 2017 Arrive Alive campaign involving coasters fabricated from cars involved in collisions, with text stating that a “Local bar has metal coasters made from cars wrecked in drunk driving accidents for St. Patrick’s Day.” It was true that a bar (Toronto’s The Emmet Ray) introduced the coasters on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017. Arrive Alive said the materials were sourced from “cars that were involved in collisions,” not necessarily “cars wrecked in drunk driving accidents.” Overall, the image was reflective of the 2017 campaign — but the material was not specifically sourced from accidents involving alcohol. Confusion over the specific source of the material for the coasters was not new in 2021 either — by March 19 2017, the version shared to Imgur stated they were “made from cars in drunk driving accidents.”