The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council in partnership with San Francisco ad agency Pereira O’Dell produced new PSAs (public service advertisements) for “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.” It is a campaign to remind drivers that distracted driving is never acceptable. According to the most recent NHTSA data, at any given time during daylight hours, an estimated 481,000 drivers are using handheld devices such as smartphones. The approximately 3.5 million commercial drivers in the U.S. are affected adversely both in safety and scheduling.
Ad Council research shows that more than nine in ten Americans believe sending and reading texts while driving is dangerous or very dangerous. However, while people know that the behavior is dangerous, many still text and drive regularly.
“Reading or sending a text while driving isn’t worth risking your life and the lives of those around you,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “By helping drivers curb this habit, we will save nearly ten lives from being lost to distracted driving each day.”
To address the disconnect between awareness and behavior, the new PSAs, created pro bono by Pereira O’Dell, humorously depict the daily life of one man who just can’t put his phone down. He stumbles through life with his eyes glued to his screen – making blunders along the way – until he gets behind the wheel and responsibly puts his phone aside. This winking creative approach acknowledges the powerful need many people feel to always keep an eye on their phone and concludes with a reminder to “text and whatever, just don’t text and drive.”
The new creative work is appearing on TV, and in radio and social media. Per the Ad Council’s model, the new PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide and run in donated media time and space. To date, the “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks” campaign has received approximately $225 million in donated media value.