Video is a powerful medium. It has the ability to visually convey difficult concepts, sometimes rendering words secondary. Then there are those moments where a video truly leaves you truly speechless.
And, sometimes, that's the point. Automotive safety is one area where many people feel like the cars we drive are so technologically advanced and safe that they'll always be able to walk away without a care in the world.
But, there's still a need for a strong reminder, especially in an era when drivers are trying to do so much more in their vehicles, from using their smartphones to accessing the internet through their dashboards.
Here are our five favorite videos that get our gears turning.
Note: some of these videos aren't for the faint of heart, but when it comes to fully appreciating the consequences of your actions behind the wheel, we feel they're right on target.
5: "Embrace Life" Sussex Safer Roads
The most recent safety-themed video we've seen is this illustrative reminder to buckle up from Sussex County in England. The metaphor of a man's family holding on to him because he fastened his safety belt behind the wheel is a simple, beautiful way of saying a lot without uttering a single word. Right there in the spot you see a spouse and child; all the reason in the world to click the buckle into the latch.
4: "Driving while texting" from Gwent, UK public safety campaign
Apropos of the times, this not-so-subtle admonition to avoid texting comes from the United Kingdom. It certainly makes its point in a crystalline manner: If your luck with texting and driving has been good so far, there will be a time it will eventually run out and the results may be far from pleasant. The images used in this video are, of course, intended to shock viewers to attention -- a common theme in our group of videos. It's far more effective than boring them to sleep with dull expositions (especially when you consider that the target audience for this message is 16-25). Here it is, laid bare: TXT = grave danger.
3. "Like" by Volkswagen
Automakers have largely steered clear of the "shock safety" genre (Volvo's casual, breezy videos of their boxy cars crashing into test barriers and off cliffs suggested that even if the events were planned, their cars and drivers would survive). But Volkswagen took a different tact a few years back when their new ad agency took a hard look at safety. In a series of campaigns that highlighted the brand's crash ratings, viewers rode along inside a car for a typical, "show about nothing" conversation that purposely loosened the viewer up and made them comfortable. And then...BAM! The ads ended with a clever play on words: Safe Happens.
2. "Shake Hands With Danger" by the Caterpillar Tractor Company
A period masterpiece. This multipart set of films debuted in 1980 with a theme song comprised of both kinds of music: Country and Western. The narrator sounds like Harry Morgan after chain-smoking unfiltered Camels, and the beat-up release print is the cherry atop the sundae. The Caterpillar Tractor Company produced the videos.
These are the films we all snickered through, chuckling at the Marlboro Man imagery while ignoring the actual good advice contained therein. It's worth your time to watch all 4 sections.
1. Australia Transport Accident Commission compilation
Australia's Transport Accident Commission has been creating advertising to shock viewers out of any apathy about drunk driving for the last twenty years. Just before Christmas last year, this three-minute compilation of that body of work was aired; then it hit the internet.
The imagery here will stop you cold. It took two tries to get us through this set of clips; you'll be forgiven if you need to wipe a tear and kiss your children. The whole point is to grab the viewer's attention and pull on their emotions. This video is a masterwork that turns the viewer into a sponge, ready to absorb the anti-drunk-driving message completely.