Today, I came across this new PSA from the Department of Transportation against distracted driving. While there are many campaigns against drunk or high driving, this is the first to show the actual effects of driving while texting. Other campaigns against texting and driving in the past have featured the victims or families of victims, but never show what it is like to be in the car when the accident happens. Here is the video:
While the message behind this commercial is very clear, I find it almost boring. From the beginning, the viewer has some idea of what is going to happen because it is like every other distracted / drunk / high warning. Even thought it was only 30 seconds long, I felt myself being distracted from it and not really paying attention. I see how those behind it wanted to make it shocking and dramatic, but I feel like it takes more to shock today’s audience. The generation this ad is directed to is exposed to shocking material every day and this will probably be lost in the mix rather than having the intended impact on them.
I think there are more effective ways to get this message across to teens. Rather than a shocking clip from inside the car, I think the Department of Transportation should go back to what they had started doing to prevent drunk driving; stories from victims and their families. Stories from those who had caused accidents or lost friends to distracted drivers could be profiled as well to make the situation a reality. If teens hear stories from people their age who had lost friends or accidentally killed a friend, they might be more willing to put the phone down while they drive.
I think the shock value of this PSA is lost on today’s teens and a different approach needs to take place. Teens need to be shown that their actions can impact their lives and the lives of others in a way they can relate to. I think these ads would be much more effective with first person accounts instead of another “shocking” video teens will just forget about.