British 'texting-while-driving' PSA: Does it go too far?

File under: It’s too early (in the morning, in the week, in my life) for this. A new British PSA attempting to discourage teenagers from texting while driving is actually a four-minute, 15-second journey into YouTube hell. If the graphic, slo-mo head-on collision doesn’t have you covering your bleary eyes in horror, then perhaps the followup, side-impact crash will accomplish that task. By the time the video reaches the two-minute mark — where a toddler in the back seat of one of the affected vehicles chants “mommy, daddy wake up,” and paramedics try to get a response from her shocked infant sibling –you’ll be in the emotional fetal position, guaranteed. My question is: Does this PSA go too far with its grim, blood-spattered imagery and 255-second running time? I’m inclined to answer “no.” After all, instances of texting-while-driving accidents are on the rise, and the ad’s targeted teenage audience is a notoriously tough one to reach. And ultimately, I’d rather see this horror show staged for a camera crew than unfolding on a highway near me. Check it out for yourself, then vote in our poll below!


Comments (40 total) Add your comment
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  • Wojo

    The only thing this ad lacks is a closing shot of the phone on the ground with a cracked screen partially covered with blood. For maximum effect, it could have shown James’ text back saying, “I hope you’re not texting while driving.”

  • Kat

    Wow. They sure don’t pull any punches over there, do they? This is something everyone needs to see. It’s not just teenagers doing it.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit by people doing it.

  • matt

    they need to show this in drivers ed and in traffic school. they should also show the same thing but with the girl talking on her cell phone because that is just as bad.

  • Adam

    I was covering my eyes nby 0:30!!
    I dont think its a bad idea that their doing this, mostly because texting while driving is such a bad thing, and people DO need a little jolt of reality. But on the other hand, that WAS a little graphic to the point of me getting into the rug on my floor

  • Elizabeth

    The British PSAs are painfully brutal. I listen to Absolute Radio online at work, and some of the radio ones I’ve heard are just as blunt, if not more, than this. Watching your children at train crossing, keeping chemicals and hot liquids out of reach for kids. Its kinda awesome!

    • Shasta

      Ha, I was going to comment about Absolute Radio, too. I love British PSAs! Making sure your baby doesn’t fall down the stairs, wearing a con-dom (love the English pronunciation)… Americans could definitely use more PSAs. One guy is haunted by the ghost of the kid he killed when he wasn’t paying attention while driving. Creepy stuff.

    • PMD

      I grew up in London and I am still haunted by the PSAs I heard – the one where the car is speeding and children are – no wait, were – playing… I am not perfect and I still do speed but I really do slow down in residential areas because I can still here the screeching tires!

      • Courtney

        Oh my gosh, I know exactly which one you’re talking about! I used to live in London and when my little sister came out, the ad campaign was when they’d have posters of people who would have grown up to be a pop star or whatever except they were hit by a car in London when they were 9. She was severely traumatized by that whole campaign.

  • DJ

    I have actually texted from time to time.. no more of that! This ad is extremely effective!

  • Red

    I heard a local radio show play part of this on the radio last week while I was driving to work – I was shaking just listening to it! It is absolutely horrific but it NEEDS TO BE SEEN. Teenagers are in a dream world where nothing bad will ever happen to them (and some adults are, too). If this shocks people into putting down that stupid phone, then job well done.

  • Jane

    This didn’t shock me, and I’m in my late 30’s. Teenagers are stubborn and stupid so anything that can remotely connect with their empathy towards others is necessary.

    • Dark

      That’s not true. Some of us are not that stubborn or ignorant when it comes to things like this. I’m 16 and I have never texted nor have I drived a car. When I heard about this, I wanted to see it and I did. It made me cringe a little but the message went though. I don’t plan to text and after seeing this, I’m keeping to that pledge. Don’t judge the whole teenage population because of heartless idiots who do stuff like this because some of us teens like me actually do care.

  • MsDaisy

    We had a death in this state just this weekend where a driver dropped his cell phone and crashed while attempting to pick it up, killing him and injuring his passenger. This needs to be shown in every high school on really big screens for maximum impact. There is nothing on a text message that is important enough to risk your life and the life of others.

  • harry

    Spot On!

  • Binky

    I’d show this in all high schools, but American kids would have to see the reversed version, since it’s a bit confusing that the person on the right is the driver…

  • steph

    holy crap!

  • M

    A bit overdramatic and overly specific… Didn’t affect me.

  • Leroy

    It’s pitch perfect…it would’ve been overkill if they showed the driver 5 years down the line: paralyzed, in a wheelchair, overweight, and smoking cigarettes.

  • Josie

    Holy hell, that’s traumatic.

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