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If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one-and-a-half minute commercial by car manufacturer Volkswagen is worth a million. The ad, called “Eyes on the Road”, left me speechless and is hands down the most effective warning against texting-and-driving I have ever seen.

Volkswagen equipped a Hong Kong movie theater with a location-based broadcaster that could send a text message to everyone in the theater simultaneously. As unsuspecting teenagers waited for their movie to start, they saw instead a large-screen version of the view from behind a steering wheel (of a Volkswagen of course).

Their looks of perplexity were interrupted by a text message…to everyone in the theater. The eager teens reached for the phones that lit the theater like lightning bugs on a dark night. As they looked down from the virtual behind-the-wheel view to read the message – well, just watch the video.

 

http://youtu.be/JHixeIr_6BM

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a series of distracted driving PSAs for April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. They are accurate, graphic depictions of what it looks like for a driver to be texting one second, and hit by a semi the next. I understand the NHTSA’s urgency to curb this growing epidemic. Our firm gave a presentation to high school students about about texting and distracted driving and we have seen how one impulsive decision can alter a person’s trajectory for life. The NHTSA ads were an exceptional effort by an agency battling a serious public safety concern, but in my opinion the Volkswagen ad is much more effective.

Teenagers never think they will be the ones in the wreck. Sure, texting and driving kills, but it won’t killthem. Volkswagen’s use of high-tech messaging put the moviegoers in the driver’s seat.  Although we aren’t in the theater with them, we are privy to their reactions – a hundred stunned, scared faces still grasping their cell phones in bewilderment – as they make the connection: “That could have been me.”

And that’s the message we’re trying to convey as parents, isn’t it? It could be you. Statistically, it’s likely to be you. I don’t want it to be you, and you don’t either.

AM

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