“I Drive between the Lines:” Social Media Contribute to Improving Driving Culture in Iran

Raz Zimmt looks at the ways that Iranian social media has been used to promote road safety.

Twitter advertisement for the 'I Drive Between the Lines' campaign
Twitter advertisement for the 'I Drive Between the Lines' campaign

In recent months, a campaign to change the country’s driving culture has been conducted on Iranian social networking sites (SNS). It has aroused considerable interest and is well-received by the public. The campaign is designed to raise awareness among motorists of the dangers of crossing the dividing lines on roads, an offense which is responsible for roughly ten percent of traffic accidents in Iran. The deputy commander of Iran’s traffic police recently said that on some officially three-lane highways, traffic actually travels as if there were five lanes, disrupting other drivers and increasing the risk of traffic accidents. Drivers who ignore safety laws are some of the major causes of road accidents in Iran, which has one of the highest accident rates in the world.[1] This campaign is further evidence of the Iranian public’s growing use of SNS to promote various issues of civil concern. When the civil concerns are consistent with the objectives of the Iranian establishment, as in the current case, the establishment lends its support, despite its principled reservations about SNS.

The “I drive between the lines” campaign began as an initiative led by several young students from Tehran in February 2016. As part of the campaign, they established accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Telegram,[2] where they circulated photos and videos documenting cars crossing the white dividing lines on the main roads and uploading public service announcements, illustrations and cartoons intended to increase awareness of driving in accordance with the law. The campaign emphasizes the benefits of being careful to comply with the dividing lines, including reducing traffic accidents, relieving road congestion, improving efficiency and reducing traffic jams on the highways.

Siavash Kashmiri, a leader of the campaign, recently told the Iranian news agency ISNA that the original idea for ​​the campaign was to print stickers and distribute them to drivers. In the end, under the influence of other students who joined the initiative, it was decided that SNS would be the best platform for disseminating the message. Yet shortly after its launch, the campaign moved from the virtual arena to the street, and stickers reading “I drive between the lines” were seen on the roads. Kashmiri said that the campaign began without government aid or external funding, and drivers who were moved by the online campaign and heeded the initiators’ call, printed stickers bearing the campaign’s slogan independently. He further said that they had also received inquiries from Iranian celebrities who expressed readiness to promote the campaign without any compensation.[3]

The public response was so impressive that Tehran’s Traffic Police announced in late April that it would join the project. The district traffic police chief announced that stickers bearing the campaign slogan would also be affixed to police cars, and praised the campaign, saying that using the public’s ability to influence and instruct other citizens is the best means for improving driving habits. He pointed to the importance of SNS in promoting such initiatives, and said that the regime is also using SNS to raise awareness of the issue of road safety.[4]

The campaign received wide coverage in traditional media as well. An article published on the site “Tabnak” related to the success of the campaign in increasing drivers’ awareness of traffic laws and improving their driving habits. The story highlights the fact that the campaign has been more effective than enforcement measures taken by the police. The article claims that while police imposed heavy fines on speeders, they have not been able to persuade them to change their poor driving habits; in contrast, this campaign has indeed achieved good results.[5]

As SNS have expanded in Iran in recent years, social media, with its accessibility and ability to spread a message rapidly, has become a major arena for acting on civil issues, as well as engaging in social and political struggles. The campaign to change driving culture in Iran is a good example, and joins a list of other online civil struggles, including the opposition to Iranian automakers, raising awareness of environmental issues and the struggle for animal rights.[6] This campaign reflects a growing civic consciousness and willingness on the part of Iranian citizens to join civil society campaign struggles in cyberspace, which often overflow into the streets, where they sometimes become active public protests.



[1] “Iran comes top in the number of global road accident deaths,” BBC News, 10 May, 2012.

[3] “I drive between the lines,” ISNA, April 16, 2016.

[4] “The police join ‘I drive between the lines,’” Tabnak, April 24, 2016.

[5] “Hashtag succeeds where the police could not,” Tabnak, April 21, 2016.

[6] See: Raz Zimmt, “Consumer Boycott of Iranian Automakers on Social Media,” Beehive, no. 8-9, September-October 2015;  Raz Zimmt, “Social Media in the Struggle for Animal Rights in Iran,” Beehive, vol. 3, no. 5, May 2015, ; Raz Zimmt, “Human Rights and Environmental Protests: Facebook in the Service of Civil Struggles in Iran,” Beehive, vol. 1, no. 4, December 31, 2013,