“You could learn a lot from a dummy.”

11 12 2011

Now that you’ve seen some funny examples, here’s a seat belt campaign that managed to be eye-catching while still sending the right message:

The Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF) launched its Seat Belt Education campaign in 1985 which was one of the most influential campaigns to address driving safety. The public service announcements featured crash test dummies showing what can happen in an accident without seat belts. The Seat Belt Education campaign received more than $337 million in donated media time and space in the first six years of the campaign.

“In the first six months of 1986, a DOT survey in 19 cities reported that 39% of drivers reported using their seat belts as opposed to 23% a year before. Overall, between 1982 and 1988, seat belt usage by all vehicle passengers nationwide increased from 11 to 47 percent.” (Quoted from the AEF website)

Although the AEF ended the Crash Test Dummy campaign in 1999, it continues to live out its mission of reminding viewers that there is never a safe time to not wear seat belts.

This mission sounds similar to the NHTSA’s mission of “reducing crash-related injuries and fatalities while ensuring the highest standards of safety on the nation’s roadways.” (NHTSA)

But again the problem is that the “Click It or Ticket” campaign doesn’t emphasize the importance of seat belt use. Instead it acts as a reminder to hide from the police. While working on this blog I have heard fellow college students, adults, and parents joke about not wearing seat belts. They defended their driving ability and were only concerned with “watching out” for the police.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Section 27315 states that the first offense for not wearing a seat belt can not exceed $20 (subsequent offenses only reaching $50.)

All this time I was frustrated that the “Click It or Ticket” campaign didn’t send the right message. Now seeing how insignificant the cost of a ticket would be, the campaign seems even more ridiculous. The campaign stresses losing $20 when you could lose your life. With such an insignificant fee the campaign is more like “Click It or Lose Your Lunch Money.”

Mr. Strickland, as the country’s top automotive safety official the time has come for the NHTSA to phase out the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. It is time to develop one with meaning. It’s OUR lives, “Get It Together.”