Don’t Text and Drive [TM]

There’s a video that’s going viral that I saw today. It’s apparently a British public service announcement that has been used in schools in the U.K. to warn against the dangers of texting while driving.

Now, let me say up front that texting while driving is obviously stupid. I’ve done it on the rare occasion (although in as safe a manner as is possible, if there’s such a thing), but you clearly shoudn’t do it. Obviously, it increases your chances of getting in a crash.

This video demonstrates the point with a worst-case scenario (WCS) depicting a violent crash caused by teen texting. More after the video.

Okay. My opinion: This video is an example of being so excessive that the message is perhaps lost. From a technical standpoint, this video is well done. Nice production values and editing on a surely limited budget. But in terms of its message, it’s way too melodramatic, extreme, stylized, and sensational. The wreck itself is so spectacularly over-the-top that instead of cringing, I found myself thinking “Awesome!” and chuckling at the insane level of catastrophe. That second impact, where the girl looks up just in time to see the car coming at her? Come on. I’m no longer watching a PSA; I’m watching Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. At one point you actually hear one girl’s neck snap. I guess what I’m saying is that this crash should not be nearly this entertaining.

Then there’s the prolonged screams by the surviving teen driver. Melo. Drama. And the shot of the baby’s lifeless eyes: Now we’ve jumped the shark. I see what they were going for here, but this video is so extreme in its WCS that it becomes self-defeating and, indeed, self-parody.

I dunno; maybe I’m a heartless cynic. But I remember what it was like to be a teenager who sees everything in terms of irony. A video like this (the first minute, for sure) is more likely to prompt laughs from the it-won’t-happen-to-me crowd than it is likely to instill fear.

And how about that crash? Awesome!

Update: Apparently the four-minute viral version is only a segment of a full 30-minute short film. Perhaps in the context of 30 minutes, this crash-and-aftermath sequence might benefit from context.

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14 comments on this post

Quinalla
Thursday, September 3, 2009, 9:37 am (UTC -5)

I agree, driving while texting is incredibly stupid and always angers me when I see people doing it (or anything else that is that distracting while driving like reading, applying eyeliner, etc.), but this commercial is not likely to discourage one person from texting while driving. And this is part of a 30 minute film? Good grief, it doesn’t take that long to explain how dumb overly-distracted driving is. What happened to the nice short PSAs that got right to the point?

Josh
Thursday, September 3, 2009, 1:33 pm (UTC -5)

If anything, my biggest complaint is that it could make the same message in at least half of the time. I zoned out after the two minute mark.

Genre-Buster
Thursday, September 3, 2009, 7:59 pm (UTC -5)

Graphic violence for didactic purposes is kind of a tradition for the Brits. They did a drunk-driving ad similar to this a few years ago. Don’t know if it’s on Youtube, but like this, it’s very much worth missing.

Jammer, you admit to texting while driving? You should be punished somehow…

I know: You have to watch the full half-hour version ten times in a row. It might work, actually. The images from the drunk driving ad stuck with me for a long time afterward, but then again, I don’t generally go for the action thing with the movies I watch.

So scratch the five-hour marathon. Finish your TNG reviews, and I’ll be happy.

Antisocialmunky
Friday, September 4, 2009, 8:19 am (UTC -5)

I believe I saw one where there was car load of girls and the one sitting in the center back had no seatbelt. So when they got into an accident her head flying around killed all the other girls.

Alex99a
Friday, September 4, 2009, 10:11 am (UTC -5)

It’s all because everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road.

Bird
Saturday, September 12, 2009, 2:23 pm (UTC -5)

You should see Red Asphalt…that is:
Red Asphalt I (The Motion Picture)
Red Asphalt II (The Wrath of Khars)
Red Asphalt III (The Search for Spleen)
Red Asphalt IV (The Voyage to the ER)
Red Asphalt V (There is no Red Asphalt V)
Red Asphalt VI (The Undiscovered Colon) (Okay, I made up the last one)

Latex Zebra
Monday, September 14, 2009, 2:59 am (UTC -5)

I haven’t watched this yet, will check it out tonight.
I remember having nightmares when I was about 7 because of harrowing and horrifying Public Information films the Government put out in the late seventies that where forced upon me in School.
Don’t talk to strangers.
Don’t play in gravel pits.
Don’t fly kites near powerlines.
Don’t leave the house… Ever!

If this could be harrnessed in movies we’d have the greatest Horror Movie output in the World.

Stef
Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 2:48 am (UTC -5)

My Dad was a fireman his whole working life (before being tragically cut short). He has had to cut many people free from cars after accidents. Screaming for a few minutes after the crash? Pfff, that’s nothing. When you can’t tell what sex a victim is because of the damage and they have no face left, and they are still screaming half an hour later (long before the Jaws-Of-Life), then it might be realistic.

You might consider it over the top and melodramatic, but it isn’t a patch on reality.

David Meyer
Thursday, September 17, 2009, 9:31 pm (UTC -5)

Been quiet, Jammer. Everything OK?

Jammer
Thursday, September 17, 2009, 11:04 pm (UTC -5)

Just been kinda busy. Work and stuff.

Chris
Monday, September 21, 2009, 12:14 pm (UTC -5)

I remember a road safety presentation years ago when I was at school. The pupils ended up cheering as the crashes became more and more spectacular – one poor motorcyclist went right under the wheel of a big truck.

I think a more effective message would be to show a crash, and then the aftermath. See footage from the victim going to hospital, comments from on-scene witnesses or family members, and have the victim talk about how the crash has changed his or her life. I think the problem with a lot of these videos is that they aim to shock with sudden collisions or gore, when really what should be focused on are the consequences. Young people like to do things without fully considering the consequences of their actions. That’s how a seemingly-flippant joke becomes bullying, and in this case how the decision to text can cost someone their life.

Perhaps focusing on victims that have been physically affected by a crash is still too narrow a focus – afterall, not everyone who is involved in a crash ends up with serious injuries – but it’s still more realistic than depicting something out of a Michael Bay film. Something which years of Hollywood have conditioned us to be unfazed or thrilled by. Having someone talk about their experience might actually get the point across to more people.

grumpy_otter
Saturday, September 26, 2009, 3:52 pm (UTC -5)

Chris, I was thinking the same thing–hear the crunching of the crash, then fadeout, then come back to a scene of the girls bodies being removed while the driver watches in horror. Maybe a scene of the funerals.

The little one asking when Mommy and Daddy would wake worked pretty well, I think–but that baby was too obviously unhurt.

Eduardo
Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 1:53 pm (UTC -5)

Parts of it do work to a certain extent. Hearing a neck snapping and blood flowing from the face in the midst of the crash can be a bit nauseating, especially when it’s happening to gorgeous young teen girls, on the prime of their lives.

Parts of the aftermath do feel a little drawn-out though. The screaming teen gives over-the-top a whole new meaning. On the othe hand, the baby’s eyes, although lifeless, would have carried a better impact if the face had other noticeable injuries. The commercial was both graphically over-the-top and equally tame at the same time, probably so it could air without restrictions in prime-time.

But as for the texting itself, I have a hard time believing the driver would be that careless. I’d dialed cell phone numbers without losing focus of my driving, because I know the position of the numbers and I don’t take my eyes off the road.

But texting while driving like that is beyond absurd. She was literally not paying attention to the road. If I met a girl like that on the street, I would snatch her phone and run my car over it. Then I’d personally rip her license.

That ad should be targeted at irresponsible teens more than anything else.

Ian
Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 5:51 pm (UTC -5)

Ah the traditional don’t do this and drive c ampaigns… Nothing freaks me out more than the drugs one with the wide eyes….

But yes I agree, us Brits tend to go for horror to make you stop driving badly.. there was that one where the girl was crushed on the road and she became alive again… urgh!

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