New road safety campaigns from France and Finland take vastly different approaches to getting road safety messages across.

The new French video, launched in February, shows in bleak, close-up images the impact of road collisions on several individuals who suffered life changing injuries, and their families. It follows a number of increasingly shocking films released in recent months that have included a class of primary school children wiped out by a car, a fake ‘funeral’ for speeding motorists and a film released by police showing the moments leading up to a real, fatal motorcycle collision.

The Finnish clip, released this month in an English version by ETSC’s member Liikenneturva as part of a campaign on distracted driving, takes a markedly different approach. Using uplifting music, a powerful voiceover and a sequence of positive images of people using their phones in everyday life, its final frames show an accident avoided, accompanied by the simple message ‘When you drive, just drive’.

A recent article in The Economist newspaper questioned the power of ‘scary adverts’ citing evidence showing that positive anti-smoking publicity caused more people to ring a helpline than pictures of tumours erupting disgustingly out of cigarettes. Josh Bullmore, an advertising industry executive who has made and studied such campaigns says gory, shocking public-information films linger in people’s heads, but do not alter behaviour much. If the consequences seem too extreme, the threat may seem too far-fetched, he says.

There is little doubt that shocking clips can count viewers in the millions. The motorcycle crash film put online by a local British police force has been watched more than 15 million times.

However, positive messages can also score huge numbers. Budweiser’s recent campaign on drink driving showed a young man reunited with his dog after staying at a friend’s house rather than driving home drunk. It currently stands at 22 million views.

The videos mentioned above can all be viewed on ETSC’s YouTube channel.


Original source: European Transport Safety Council