DETROIT(Feb. 17, 2010) — A new public service ad campaign, premiering in the Feb. 22 issue of AutoWeek, uses startling graphic images to grab the public's attention regarding the dangers of distracted driving.
The ad campaign, called “Goodbye,” was created by Coyne Communications Inc., a marketing firm in Basking Ridge, N.J. It was created in partnership with AutoWeek (AW), a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business, and was designed with the hope of shocking drivers and changing behavior behind the wheel.
The ad in AW's Feb. 22 issue is titled “Russian Roulette” and features the image of a revolver placed next to a cell phone splattered with blood. The campaign positions cell phones as potentially lethal weapons if used while driving. The copy and tagline remind drivers that whatever they have to say can wait until they pull over or stop the car.
“Distracted driving is stupid, stupid, stupid behavior,” said Dutch Mandel, AW's associate publisher and editorial director, in a prepared statement. “There is no reason why you need to have a 6-ounce phone attached to your ear when you have a 4,000-pound car attached to your brain.”
Tom Coyne, CEO and creative director of Coyne Communications, noted that although several states have laws banning cell phone use while driving, the public has reacted to these laws largely by ignoring them. “Our goal,” he said, “is to create awareness in order to change behavior. If we soft-pedal the message, absolutely nothing will change. We have to shock people into realizing that cell phones and cars are a lethal mix.”
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving resulted in nearly 6,000 fatalities and 515,000 injuries last year alone. One in 20 crashes was linked to cell phones. Drivers who talk on cell phones are four times more likely to crash than those who don't; drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash.
Even more startling, according to ad campaign organizers, is the fact 87 percent of teen drivers admit to texting behind the wheel.
“What flabbergasts me,” Mr. Mandel said, “is the measurable diminished capacity of your brain (18 percent) when you're on the phone or, God forbid, trying to text. With distracted driving you slice off one-fifth of your computing power and go on your merry way. It's unfathomable.”
Mr. Coyne, who has 25 years of automotive marketing expertise, said he feels the problem will continue to grow with the increase of technology users, young drivers, professional pressure to multi-task and social expectations to stay in constant touch.
“My own teenage triplets can't walk around the house without an iPod or cell phone attached to their ear,” he said. “To them it seems perfectly acceptable, expected even, to text and drive. They don't realize how dangerous it really is.
“I have absolutely nothing against cell phones. My entire life is on mine. I just don't use it while driving.”
“We at AutoWeek could not agree more with Coyne's mantra,” Mr. Mandel added. “We are doing what we can to keep drivers, especially kids, safe on the road. And if that means including graphic, in-your-face images in the pages of our magazine, we're all in.”
While safety agencies in the U.S. focus on vehicles, technology and litigation, other countries are focusing on the actual cause of most crashes: the drivers, according to an AW press release. It noted that the consumer car magazine “views the lack of quality teenage driver education as a pandemic and continues to work to bring this issue to the forefront of minds.”
The magazine said it is continuing to advocate better quality driver training and to increase awareness through editorial coverage, Teen Driving Safety Summits and public service announcement (PSA) campaigns like this.
AutoWeek is published by Crain Communications Inc.