Safety and OSHA News

Some safety advocates say bloody anti-texting video won’t work

More than four million people have now viewed a video on YouTube that shows the tragic consequences when texting-while-driving causes a crash. Despite that, some safety pros say the video ultimately won’t do much good.

The video, made by the police department of Gwent, Wales, is 30 minutes and shows the crash in graphic detail. Two passengers in the car of a young woman who is texting-while-driving are killed. The video also shows the aftermath for the surviving young woman and her family. (See our previous story.)

The film’s director, Peter Watkins-Hughes, told The New York Times, “Young people were telling us, ‘It needs to be more shocking, it needs to be more violent, it needs to be more truthful.'”

But some experts on safety and risk disagree. Kip Viscusi, who has studied risk for decades says one reason violent videos may not work is that people are already well aware that some activities are dangerous.

Ann McCartt, senior VP for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said, “Over time, people go back to their everyday behaviors.”

McCartt’s alternative? Strong laws. “What really gets people to change their behaviors is strong laws, strongly enforced,” she said.

Richard Tay, a road safety researcher at the University of Calgary said a violent video must also instruct people on how to change their behavior.

Others are calling for the cell phone industry to handle the problem through technology, such as prompts on phones reminding people not to text and drive, or a feature that allows automatic, “I’m driving now” responses in incoming calls.

This issue mirrors a question often asked by safety pros: Do bloody, graphic videos showing workplace injuries really encourage workers to follow safety rules?

What do you think? Do gory safety videos work? Will this video on texting have a positive effect? Let us know in the Comments Box below, and take our poll on Safety News Alert’s home page.

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  1. Shock and awe type videos no longer have the impact they once did. Television and movies have dulled us all when seeing graphic scenes and carnage.

  2. Krystal Kid says:

    80% percent of all rear end collisions are caused by driver inattention, following too closely, external distraction (talking on cell phones, shaving, applying makeup, fiddling with the radio or CD player, kids, texting, etc.) and poor judgement. Go out and get one of these; and protect your family, vehicle and insurance.

  3. Thomas D. Bourdage CHCM says:

    I remember “Ohio Blue” a very blood-n-guts auto accident movie produced by the Ohio Highway patrol and shown to many driver education classes in the 60s. How ever it did not have as much impact or lasting effect as the personal movies of our own King County (Washington state) medical examiner. Those films we remembered because they were of people we knew; family members, close friends or classmates. So my belief is, to do this right, the videos would have to be local accidents and coupled – cell phoning and texting while driving.

  4. If it doesn’t work, it’s because people are too ignorant to realize they are human and that this CAN happen to them. But that’s the problem. People assume they will never be in this situation, that they are the safe ones, the safe texters, the ones that can multi-task. But what about the people on the other side of the coin? The innocents that get involved? This could happen to them because of someone else’s careless driving.

    I think the only solution is to keep drilling it into their heads. Repeat the message over and over again. If only a handful suddenly wake up and realize what is happening, then I think it’s worth it.

  5. Robert Karp says:

    I have to disagree with Ann McCartt a little. What gets people to change their behavior is when bad things actually happen to them and they learn from first hand experience that bad things don’t just happen to other people.

    There are people that are realistic about their lives and surroundings but then there are even more people out that that really have to be subjected to the school of hard knocks to get through to them.

    Most people are like sheep. They see something terrible in the news and just think “Oh, that’s terrible” and that’s as far as it gets because they somehow think it will never happen to them and just don’t think about it any further then that. Then their son is in a car accident and the son is at fault but the mother is saying “Oh no, my Johnny would never do anything like that.”

    It must be nice to live in oblivion all the time until the facts hit you square in the face.

  6. Dean Caudle says:

    If the video on texting helps one person to stop it is worth it. OK I am dating myself, when I took drivers in high school we saw the graphic “movies” in class. Can I say they help; perhaps 1 to 10% of the people will actually take the message to heart.

    One note, we have strong speeding laws and they do not stop all people from speeding. So my vote; all programs that aim to curb the problem are at some level partially helpfull. No one system works for all people.

    What would work is to take peoples drivers license away for one year for a violation!
    How many people agree with this idea?

  7. The only reason videos like this this don’t work, is because we’re too scared to show them. Let’s think about this, if you show it and it doesn’t work, no harm-no foul, if you show it and it gets through to even 25% of the audience, maybe that’s better than doing nothing. I remember an article from the old Dear Abby column, about a 17-year-old driver that dies too soon because he/she wasn’t paying attention. That column has remained vivid in my mind my entire life, I read it about 8 years before I started to drive, and I’m thankful I did, because I feel it saved me more times than I can count. Had it not been there to read, who knows? Maybe I would have been another statistic at the age of 17 or even 35 or 40? Show the video, make every student who will drive or owns a celphone watch it; make it manditory for achieving a driver’s license, let’s do something besides NOTHING!

  8. Laws that are strictly enforced along with public service announcements are the best places to start. We may also want to have people go into the schools to talk about their own experiences as the ones who either caused the accident or were the victims. Whatever is done – it has to be repetitive. Whatever is done – it has to be repetitive.

  9. I agree that these types of video’s probably won’t sink in with everyone, but if it helps even a few that’s a good thing.
    One thing I don’t understand is how it became so acceptable to use a cell phone when ever and where ever the user chooses. Employees using them during work time, people using them during dinner, in the middle of a person to person conversation etc. What happened to proper etiquette? I think society has gotten so lax that in some way it has led to these instances because people don’t have the little voice that goes off in their head “maybe this is not the appropriate place for this action”, they are completely self absorbed.

  10. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

  11. There are fail safe technologies. If a vehicle is in motion and detected above the steering wheel, it should automatically disable the telephone. Kind of like messing with a navigation system while in motion, it says pull over to change driving destination because you shouldn’t be programming your phone while you drive.

  12. McCartt’s alternative? Strong laws. “What really gets people to change their behaviors is strong laws, strongly enforced,” she said. Yeah, do you mean like the current drinking while driving laws? These are some of the strongest laws in the nation and yet people are still being killed every day by a drunk driver!

  13. Rebecca says:

    I agree with a lot of what has been said here. We have been desensitized by what we see when we turn the T.V. on. I would like to see the law enforced. It just doesn’t make sense to text and drive or do anything else and drive….just drive… attention.
    Unfortunately, I was rearended in 2006 by a woman going 60 miles an hour in a full size pickup truck. I was stopped making a left and driving a big old Mercury Cougar. Good thing because it was totaled. She admitted to me that she was calling her husband because she was running late to pick him up. She didn’t tell the police that. I was so shook up and thankful to be alive that I didn’t say anything either. I still have back problems and nerve damage in my right leg. I am in pain every day. She said she never saw me. SCARY!! She received a ticket for following too closely…that is a joke. I can’t get the insurance company to pay for my treatment. My life has changed forever. Thank God my children were not with me. I wouldn’t have them today.
    I tell everyone I can because I think it is important. It could happen to anyone. I have been driving for 25 years and have never had a ticket. I was 2 minutes out of work and driving home my regular route.


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