COLUMBIA — Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel's arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated has caught the attention of representatives for a state campaign aimed at highway safety.
Pinkel was the celebrity face last summer on a series of state-sponsored ads promoting motorcycle safety. Pinkel rides a Harley-Davidson, but the Boone County Sheriff's Department said he was driving a Chevrolet Avalanche at the time of his arrest.
Pinkel never appeared in ads about impaired driving, Leanna Depue, highway safety director for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said on Thursday.
"He does not represent the entire program," she said. "We have used him as a public figure to help us promote motorcycle safety."
Pinkel was in "Share the Road" motorcycle campaigns, which are a part of the "Arrive Alive" initiative sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. The goal of the campaigns is to reduce the number of deaths on Missouri's roads, according to the coalition's website.
Pinkel was involved with the "Share the Road" ads for several years, but he hasn't been under contract in the past year, said Sandra Hentges, outreach coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Pinkel's ads included a radio spot, posters and billboards. He also was in some public service announcements that ran on the the video screen inside the football stadium, Hentges said.
Though the ads were not related to drinking and driving, Depue said the goal of the "Share the Road" program is to protect people.
"The key thing is that, first of all, highway safety is all about public safety," she said. "No matter who it is that chooses to conduct themselves in that high-risk behavior, we’re always very disappointed in anyone’s choice to drive impaired."