Tuesday, February 23, 2010
PSAs we really need: School Bus Passing
I can't find it anywhere on line, but the vintage road safety PSA is burned into my Gen-X brain. The beginning is a little fuzzy, but it shows school kids (my age, at the time) getting off a school bus with its stop sign out and its lights flashing. A car ignores the signals — and the legal requirement to stop — and the spot ends with an echoing scream and a freeze frame on one of the little girls, books in hand, looking in horror as she's about to be killed.
Old-school shock advertising, But let me tell you, when I was getting my Driver's Licence a decade later, I sure as Hell knew you don't pass a school bus with its lights flashing on a two-lane street.
And yet, in the past month, I have personally witnessed four separate examples of cars zipping past stopped school busses with all their signals out. The bus driver honked, but they didn't even slow down. Whether they were younger drivers or moved here from elsewhere, I don't think they saw the spot.
They should. It's amazing how some of the rules of the road that we take for granted seem to be off the radar for many drivers. Every day, I see examples of drivers running red lights and stop signs at intersections, cutting off pedestrian crosswalks, and failing to pull over when an emergency vehicle is trying to get through, sirens wailing. (Yeah, I live and work downtown.)
I could wax all moralistic about the selfishness of our current urban society, but I think social marketing has a role to play here. We need to keep these basic road safety messages out there, and we need to find creative ways of hammering them home.
Take something as simple as seat belts. People in Europe are slow to buckle up. But the Embrace Life campaign that has been burning up the viral world (I keep receiving it from friends and colleagues, even though in some cases I'm the one who originally shared it with them!) is putting the issue on the radar worldwide. (If you want more background on the campaign, Marc from the global social marketing blog Osocio sent me a collaborative interview they conducted with the client, published on Facebook.)
The era of '70s Drivers' Ed shock films may be over, but the need for strong messages on basic road safety is as great as ever. If anyone in the private, public or NGO sectors is interested in trying to develop a partnership for a new campaign on school bus safety, send me a live at results[at sign]acart.com, and write "attn. Tom" in the header.