It used to be that most of the car-related public service announcements on TV focused on preventing drunk driving and getting people to buckle their seatbelts, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched grisly new ads combatting distracted drivers with the slogan "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." The spots will see heavy rotation in April because it's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. To further ram the message home, the Department of Transportation has coordinated with law enforcement for a national crackdown on cell phone use while behind the wheel from April 10-15.

While we've heard this message for years, distracted driving is still a major issue. NHTSA just released a report that estimates that 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving in 2012. It also found that federally funded enforcement programs combined with PSAs reduced the dangerous practice from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent in California and from 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent in Delaware.

The PSAs – which are nearly identical save different endings – show a group of young people in a car being subjected to the dangers of distracted driving. These spots don't pull any punches, so consider yourself forewarned, they are pretty graphic. Scroll down to check out the videos as well as the regulator's official statement.


Show full PR text
U.S. DOT Launches First-Ever Distracted Driving Enforcement and Advertising Campaign
NHTSA 10-14
Thursday, April 3, 2014

Also releases initial results of California, Delaware demonstration programs

WASHINGTON – To kick off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the Department of Transportation's first-ever, national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving. As part of the effort, television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase U Drive. U Text. U Pay. will run from April 7-15, which coincides with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans.

"This campaign puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seatbelt use," said Secretary Foxx. "Across the country, we're putting distracted drivers on notice: If you're caught texting while driving, the message you receive won't be from your cell phone, but from law enforcement - U Drive. U Text. U Pay."

At today's press conference, Secretary Foxx was joined by David Friedman, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which estimates that 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The new ads unveiled today remind the public of these deadly consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating the state distracted driving laws. The campaign will run in English and Spanish. Watch the ad on Distraction.gov.

This $8.5 million national advertising campaign supports the first-ever national distracted driving high-visibility enforcement (HVE) crackdown, which will run from April 10 to April 15, 2014. Thousands of law enforcement personnel nationwide will use traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text and drive. The national campaign builds on the success of two federally funded distracted driving state demonstration programs that took place in California and Delaware, Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.

"National campaigns like Click It or Ticket and local efforts like Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other. show that combining good laws with effective enforcement and strong public education campaigns can – and do – change unsafe driving behaviors," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. "We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to urge drivers to put down electronic devices and focus on the task of driving."

Data released today from the distracted driving demonstration programs in California and Delaware show that effective advertising coupled with increased high-visibility police enforcement of distraction laws reduced hand-held phone use over a widespread area.

Over three enforcement waves, California police issued more than 10,700 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones, and Delaware police issued more than 6,200 tickets. Observed hand-held cell phone use dropped by approximately a third at each program site, from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent in California, and from 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent in Delaware.

Currently, 43 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 12 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 37 states and D.C. ban cell phone use by novice drivers.

To prevent distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

View NHTSA's Traffic Tech report on the California and Delaware Demonstration Program
View the Distracted Driving 2012 Research Note
View the Driver Electronic Devise Use in 2012 Research Note


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  • 51 Comments
      Zoom
      • 8 Months Ago
      Maybe it'll get the point across. Maybe not. Maybe it should show the blood and mangled bodies too.
      citidriver
      • 8 Months Ago
      Too bad that the people that need to see these ads will be too distracted to look at them.
      findyourniche
      • 8 Months Ago
      People need to be shown pictures of real carnage. Everyone gets plenty of this fantasy hollywood crap. Nothing seems real these days, including the consequences. Nothing is sexing about being splattered and/or burning to a crisp.
      Knox
      • 8 Months Ago
      ' not what happens when a car gets t-boned by a truck.... This looked like a game of kick-the-can. Granted, the one I saw, was at speed – at least 65 mph; a shower of glass and car parts; car being dragged hundreds of feet, large pieces of it scattered across the highway; a small fire starts and then thirty seconds later, a mushroom cloud of fire a hundred fifty feet high.... One less high school student at graduation that year.
      johnbravo6
      • 8 Months Ago
      Old-fogey blog. Get a grip. Personal accountability removes the need for ALL of this. And government intervention into anything. The best part is that it's easily enforced by common law and natural order since the beginning of time. Blanket arbitrary laws do nothing but create criminals out of everyone, and providing 2-minutes hate for the mouth breathers to keep them distracted from real problems.
        Zoom
        • 8 Months Ago
        @johnbravo6
        Except your personal responsibility tirade also killed two other people in that car. And if it wasn't a truck that hit them, possibly someone in the other car too. If personal responsibility stopped with your own life, you'd have a point. Unfortunately, you libertarian-tards don't get that.
          Adarus
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Zoom
          Demo-rats want all the personal liberty in making decisions but none of the responsibility. On top of it, they want me to pay the bill for the consequences. Nope, sorry.
        superchan7
        • 8 Months Ago
        @johnbravo6
        You clearly haven't head the pleasure of killing or maiming an innocent driver or pedestrian while drunk or on the phone. You can do whatever you want to yourself inside a jail cell. In the real world, most of our actions have consequences for others, and we are all responsible for each other. Adarus, what does personal responsibility have to do with your favourite political party to bag on?
        superchan7
        • 8 Months Ago
        @johnbravo6
        Clarification: "Pleasure" used in the most direct sarcasm I can muster.
      Jason
      • 8 Months Ago
      We need more true life commercials like this here in the states to show our citizens the truth. We tend to sugarcoat everything here because someone is offended for this or that. Well News Flash, Life is not sugarcoated, it's brutal!
        Adarus
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Jason
        Let's show what aborting a fetus looks like. Why something that has a heart beat (6 weeks), can respond to pain (12-14 weeks), and sucks it's own thumb (16+ weeks) is not considered "living" is beyond me...
          Jason
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Adarus
          Wow, really this is on Autoblog? You need to find a the correct avenue to express yourself, this is about cars and car accidents.
          jz78817
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Adarus
          this is completely off topic and inappropriate for this site. go do your witnessing elsewhere.
          MistyGreen
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Adarus
          No, that's not a good analogy. It's different. See, there's, um.. hm. Totally wrong venue, but well said.
          superchan7
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Adarus
          Not relevant to Autoblog.
      Terry Actill
      • 8 Months Ago
      Breaks my heart to be honest. I hate seeing kids texting and driving. It should be illegal in all 50 states.
      Cruising
      • 8 Months Ago
      Thank god, ticket them all. All those people texting driving so slow swerving all over the road, how are they not scared they are not focused on the road can't they feel the car wandering about?
      marv.shocker
      • 8 Months Ago
      That's nice and all…but if NHTSA wanted to solve the problem, they would PROHIBIT infotainment systems in cars altogether. Then, the police should enforce distracted driving with a $1,000 fine and a loss of license for three months. I like the convenience of using my Bluetooth phone system while commuting as much as the next person–but I'd gladly give up modern conveniences to have people FOCUS ON THE ROAD. We got along without all these gizmos before, we can do without them now.
        superchan7
        • 8 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker
        I think the nav screen should reject all inputs when the car is moving.
          superchan7
          • 8 Months Ago
          @superchan7
          My Fiat has a Chrysler UConnect system and it restricts address entry only. Same with a Lexus that I used to have. I don't think that's good enough; as long as important controls are available on the console the screen's input should be completely ignored.
      PrintError
      • 8 Months Ago
      They need to make dozens of these, and they should be mandatorily aired every third commercial break. I hate watching morons text their way into stationary objects.
        jz78817
        • 8 Months Ago
        @PrintError
        sadly, they could air them four times an hour and they probably wouldn't have much effect. The people these are aimed at (teenagers) are pretty much universally stupid and just think "that won't happen to me."
          wem1000
          • 8 Months Ago
          @jz78817
          I would say naive is more appropriate than stupid. Teenagers feel as though they are invincible and as such make poor choices without considering the consequences. It's a lack of experience and attention to the details. In my opinion the most important aspect of driving on public roads is being situationally aware which isn't easily taught - it's almost more of a instinct. You need to know the road conditions, the limits of your vehicle and what is around you at all times. The ability to anticipate when people will pull out in front of you, stop and/or when traffic signals will change is also extremely important. Again, not necessarily teachable but all things good drivers practice and (most) teenagers lack.
      J W
      • 8 Months Ago
      Pass the phone to your friend or pull over! I don't get it, use your brain. This isn't rocket science. Love the impact and subsequent rolling of the car from the inside. Nice "wake up" moment for those watching.
      Matt McKinley
      • 8 Months Ago
      Oh no! That Dodge Stratus is ruined!
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