Is This Anti-Speeding PSA Too Real for America?

Wow. This public safety spot from New Zealand really brings home how decisions we casually make while driving can have grave consequences.

The PSA questions the whole idea that traffic violence is somehow unavoidable, the result of fate more than human error. In the United States the notion that traffic collisions are nothing but tragic “accidents” remains baked right into the language that most people use to describe these incidents.

We were alerted to this video by Erik Griswold, who asserted that the Federal Highway Administration and the Ad Council “would never allow” such a powerful public safety message about speeding to air here in the United States.

  • I’ll admit, it’d be hard for me to ever put together anything more powerful than that.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I… wow. Spectacular.

  • Why can’t America have nice things? We can have nice things! We’re ready!

  • Ben Kintisch

    great ad. shocking and powerful.

  • Thanks for posting this, Angie.

  • JDC

    Unfortunately it is too real for America, especially when you consider how goofy our ads are by comparison ( Traffic safety ads in the United States aren’t as effective is because they’re focused not on the potential for killing someone, but on getting caught doing something illegal. Catch phrases like “Over the limit, under arrest” and “Click it or ticket” seem to suggest that the consequences for driving drunk or not wearing a seat belt are limited to suspended licenses and traffic tickets.

  • While the assertions about this PSA are mine, I should give credit to the person who forwarded me the link to this article, Arlington, Virginia’s very on Alex Zealand.

  • HamTech87

    No reason this can’t go viral globally. We no longer are tied to the PSA system.

    Now they need to do one with a pedestrian.

  • Kevin Love

    Here’s one:

  • Upright Biker

    Almost made me cry. I didn’t want to watch it a second time, but I forced myself. I have a son just that age, and though the eyes are a different color, they were still his.

  • Amongst the better ones are these:

    From the UK:

  • From Ireland:

  • And this one from Australia:

  • And in Australia, it not just smashing cars only:

  • thielges

    The most powerful aspect of this ad is that the drivers get out of their cars and face one another as unarmored humans. On the street inside of a steel box it is easy to disassociate from and dehumanize others. It allows people to treat driving like a competitive video game rather than a shared experience with other real (vulnerable) people.

  • Ladybugz

    Wow..the best ad I’ve seen..

  • That was exceptionally disturbing. Violence is violence, and this lays things bare.

    Actually, it’s tough to imagine how that would be followed up by the next ad. A jingle for a supermarket? Back to your football game? On its own it’s much more powerful.

  • These remind me a bit of the “red pavement” films that gain infamy during drivers’ ed. I wonder if the more subtle advertisements, such as the New Zealand spot (on the serious side) or the Dutch spots (on the not-so-serious side) would work better than the more violent and direct ones from the UK and Ireland.

    After all, we want to change behavior, not simply shock them.

  • Actually, particularly violent ads might work better not as safety footage but as motivations for changing the system. Why do we tolerate such horrific death and violence? Why do we allow our transportation system to eat us alive? The choices we make – even obscure ones – condemn people to death.

    Olga Rodriguez of Novato, CA, is dead for want of a simple traffic signal fix. Hailey Ratliff died at just 12, mere months after moving to California, because nobody thought to put in a stop sign at the entrance to her family’s subdivision. And they died horribly, as the videos Erik shared below show in intimate detail.

    They are the price our society pays to save drivers a few seconds. Other deaths are to save drivers a few minutes. I knew it was horrifying before, but now it’s seared in my mind that these are the deaths I’m fighting to prevent.

  • Kevin Love

    I too question the effectiveness of the shocking type of ad. The blood, gore and violent death is quite disturbing, but will it really change anyone’s behavior? Or will car drivers see these scenes as being so different from their experience that they will simply not relate to them.

    Commercial advertisements for safety products rarely use shock tactics. Humor and sex are what sells.

    For example, at the plant where I work, the safety shoe truck company puts up posters with the dates the truck will come around. None of the posters features a gory photo of a mangled foot with the caption “Our safety shoes can prevent this.”

    Here is what they really do put up. One of these posters has a photo of an adorable puppy that is chewing and mangling a shoe. The caption is “Need a new pair of shoes?”

    Another poster has a hilarious photo of a burly factory worker wearing a pair of bright red women’s high heel shoes. The caption is “Do you have the right shoes for your job?”

  • I’d ask the behavioral psychologists or statisticians to tell us what works.

  • thielges

    There might be a difference between selling a product (shoes) and influencing behavior (speeding). In general marketing specialists go to great lengths to ensure that their product isn’t associated with anything negative.

  • Marcotico

    I agree completely with this post. Twenty years ago, I was living in Sweden, and was visiting family. After lunch I needed a ride to the train station, and my Aunt said she could take me as she had only had one small glass, so she could “Take the chance”. My cousins were shocked and said “Mother how could you say that.” She was older, and I heard it the way she meant it, meaning she could take the chance of getting stopped. But they had been conditioned through education, and regulation to hear it as taking the chance of crashing or hurting someone. At the time, being American is was laughable that someone would consider driving after one glass of wine to be impaired, but i was impressed by how well the Swedish prohibition on drinking and driving had worked.

    As a digression, most European countries have robust taxi service even in suburban and rural communities. So people still drink heavily, there is just always an option to getting home without driving.

  • twk

    This video has gone viral and was just shown in its entirety on my local new station in Washington DC. Nice to see it get air time!

  • Ilze

    Not at all!! Considering the seriousness of speeding this ad really makes you think about it!! Brilliant – the sad fact is all over the world ( a good quick fact example speed is an issue – I hope this add makes it to Aus as well!!


More than 112,500 people were killed in speeding-related crashes from 2005 to 2014 . Image: NTSB

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