Campaign Enlists Comedians to Curb Reckless Teen Driving

The Ad Council has some new material in its campaign aimed at teenage drivers. In these spots, a comedic actor (Fred Willard in the ad above) in the backseat of a car with three teens cajoles or threatens the driver into slowing down or minding the road. The gist of the campaign, corresponding with the title of its web site, is "speak up or else" — a name perhaps more suited to hard-hitting PSAs from overseas.

  • To me this is total crap. Why are we promoting driving among teens anyway, ok yeah this sort of comes off like the abstinence crew, but you know everyone becomes vegetarian and starts wearing black at some point during their teen years, why can’t the whole not owning a car and not being a consumer junkie be mixed into all the anti-establishment type actions?

    I guess the problem is everything has become a freakin costume. You can buy blue hair dye at the mall now.

    You know the amount of money we spend on not getting kids to drink and smoke pot could be spent on not getting them to drive, the only problem with drinking and teens is the driving part (and the gonorrhea, but they have penicillin now,) but seriously it’s so obvious all of these campaigns aren’t real.

    The war on fat that we have taken so far that we have actually banned fastfood joints in certain neighborhoods (do what you want in your neighborhood, but I’m just saying you can still buy cigarettes, so if death is important to you then what’s up with the cigarettes being ok.)

    We tell kids that drinking and driving will kill them, but in college campuses around LA there are dozens of bars and with no education on alternative forms of transportation. Instead of stopping kids from drinking and driving or speeding in driving, why don’t we stop kids from driving and pour them a scotch.

    Of course that would stop the wheel of consumer junkieism that corporate American continues to want us to crave.

    As the whole don’t have sex, don’t use drug crew starts in on the kids early, we need to start in on the kids early.

    If you meet a five year old whisper in their ear, “if your mommy drives, she’s a murderer…” j/k, that would be a funny skit or something though, in real life maybe don’t do that, but we should at least put the idea in young angelenos heads.


  • How anyone could have anything against a commercial that encourages safe driving is beyond me.

    Browne, you are way off the reservation on this one.

  • Is driving a car safe? Is encouraging parents to buy their kid a car safe? Look at the economy. How about telling kids to wait until they can afford to kill someone before they make the decision to get a car. And even if they don’t have their own vehicle, driving your parents’ car leads to wanting your own car. I know I grew up in LA. The car culture in LA must me stopped at the roots. This automatic turn 16 get a car or this idea that in order to be an adult you must have a car is a menace to our society.

    A commerical with a kid driving, even if it’s a “don’t drive reckless” psa, is still a commercial telling a kid that driving is ok, as long as you do it “responsibly.” And what kid’s life is set up to the point that driving could even be viewed as a responsible action or a necessary action? Not like 16 years old have jobs, hell even 40 year olds in LA don’t have jobs.

    Why don’t we have responsible drug commercials? If you think driving is something a kid can do responsibly then a kid can also take drugs responsibly.

    I bet cars have killed more kids than drugs have.

    We tell kids to recycle, we tell kids to not torture animals, we tell kids to love the planet, but telling them not to drive, that’s crossing the line?

    Sex is natural, but we tell kids to “wait” until they get all the facts. How about having them wait until they get all of the fact on the unnatural, but marketed as natural LA obsession with driving.

    And telling kids to not drive fast or to not text while they are driving is as useful as telling kids to not have sex. Not going to happen. Not in LA. You give a kid a car you can’t be mad or surprised that they drive it recklessly. 16 years olds are reckless beings, that is the point of being 16.

    I can’t even talk to 21 year olds without them texting to their friend sitting next to them some insightful thought on their little machines, hell I can’t even have a conversation with a person anymore without checking my little machine.


  • Just took a look at the Irish and UK PSAs which are shockingly informative, unlike this sanitized funny crap in the US. Shocking. The Irish one, well we know that one wasn’t sponsored by car companies, lets take a look at who is sponsoring the above “helpful” piece of shit psa.

    Oh yeah the YR ad company that did this pro bono (how generous) also works for Ford and Land Rover, notice how if you go to the site (speak up or else) it tells you how to drive a SUV safely.


  • But browne, everyone knows that teenagers driving is a non-negotiable fact of American life” and that if we don’t have a car for every person in the U.S. our “economy” will freeze up and we’ll all be turned into Mad Max extras.

    I’ve got a teenage driving commercial – one with kids seeing bicycle and transit facilities in front of their school, house, or commercial district. No need to buy T.V. time with this ad either – just provide the transit options.

    I am off the rez with browne on this one.

  • Spokker

    Not all situations are the same. It can be frustrating to see a teenager with a fast car and no responsibilities but there are also many people who had a situation like my own.

    I started driving when I was 17. I used my grandmother’s old car to both learn how to drive, drive HER around when she became unable to do it herself and I drove myself to a part-time job after school.

  • I would also prefer that the ad council get a bit bolder and show ads like the Irish one Ubrayj mentioned (if it’s the one I’m thinking of. . . where it essentially shows a car hitting a child in slow motion). I think they have a longer-lasting, haunting message that could actually make people think.

    That said, the point of THIS ad is to address the issue of people (teenagers, specifically) driving recklessly. Attacking it simply because it shows people driving a car when you would prefer they were riding their bikes or a bus is just completely out of left field. It’s like attacking a public health ad for encouraging safe sex practices because you’re worried it will give kids the idea to have sex.

    People drive cars, much to your chagrin. Should we not air ads to encourage them to do so safely? Would it be better if such ads not air at all? Come on now.

    As for whether teenagers should be driving at age 16, well, that’s an argument I can understand. Raising the driving age to 18 wouldn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  • Spokker

    Personally I don’t think the ads will do shit, whether or not I agree with them.

    The problem with encouraging teenagers not to drive is that driving can be a marketable skill in the market for jobs. You can deliver pizzas, do promotional crap for radio stations, deliver packages, etc. Even higher paying jobs can require a drivers license and the ability to drive. By not teaching your kid to drive, even if you’re not going to get him/her a car, is putting them at a disadvantage in the job market.

    That’s why I lament the end of drivers ed. Carless families have a tougher time teaching their kids to drive and they may be at a disadvantage when it’s time to get a job.

  • Spokker

    To add to the above, SAFE driving is a marketable skill in the job market. Encouraging responsible driving and keeping a short leash on their driving privileges is the key.

  • Have a PSA to encourage people to drive safely, but don’t air bs. And this PSA is bs. I would rather not have anything at all than to have this bs being put out probably (and by put out I mean funded) by car companies to get kids to drive cars.

    This PSA is false and weak and a waste of time. It’s a waste of time just like the Just So No campaign and the DARE program. It’s not going to do anything and then a bunch of corporate jerks can put on their website that they did something and they have not done crap.

    And the most offensive part of the PSAs is that they are supposed to be funny and for entertainment value I find them lacking. They are a waste of time and not funny.

    I’m not for raising the driving age or putting more laws on people, I’m for giving people options. I’m for not having the airwaves and the internet dominated by one perspecitve. I feel it’s very unfair of adults to not give kids true options. The car is not the only option and that is what is pushed on young people and that is not fair. There is the bus, there is the train, there is the bicycle, there is walking and those are GREAT options for high school kids, broke college students and young childless people in general.

    When you are young how big is your world really. It’s pretty damn small. No reason for that world to have to include a personal vehicle and the more people think of the future of this country hopefully the more they will feel it’s valuable to have discussions that talk about the really bad things a car can do to people.

    Now for many its too late, but for 12, 14, 18 year olds its not too late to start thinking differently and we should encourage that and not think it’s crazy or off the wall or unreasonable. It’s not unreasonable to say you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars that you don’t have on getting your kid a car. I think many parents would be thankful for that message.

    When I was in high school I knew two people that died in car accidents. They died because they were speeding in large heavy hunks of metal, because they thought that is what you needed to have and do in order to be cool.

    And that’s sad. That’s sad, because when I had a friend die of a drug overdose they didn’t say “well she should have used drugs more responsibly or she should have not taken drugs so quickly.” They said she shouldn’t have been using drugs. When kids get shot, people don’t advocate kids getting handgun lessons, they say, “wow these are dangerous kids shouldn’t have them, people in general shouldn’t have guns.” So why is it with the car, with as many people as it kills and maims when a kid dies owing to it does no one say, “we need to rethink this car thing.”

    I bet car accidents kill more kids in the US than guns and drugs put together and if its not more I bet it’s pretty close.

    Why is the car so freakin sacred that we can’t even talk about it in terms of how deadly the car can actually be?


  • I understand what you’re saying Spokker, but I’m not referring to the working class demographic in my discussion. I know that class and economics in Los Angeles makes certain things very hard. Not having a car and not having a license makes it hard for the working class demographic to live, but the middle to upper middle class demographic needs to get off the consumer junkie train.

    Me having a car when I was in high school had absolutely nothing to do with my parttime job, because I didn’t have one and it had everything to do with me hanging out, status, getting in trouble and being a menace to society.

    This is why I’m not really for laws in regards to making it harder to get a license. I’m more for options to show people that there is a different way. We can’t start making laws to make it harder to do certain activities that are directly related to the bridge that people from the lower on the ladder economic groups use to get out of the hole. We can’t make laws to make things harder until we make things fair. That’s why I have never been a big fan of toll roads, because from my experience it seems to be the only people who have to pay for that kind of thing (and I mean pay for it not just because they never live on the side that people want to go to and because a larger percentage of their income in comparison to others gets sucked away to pay for it) are people whose lives are hard enough as it is.

    For instance I’m really about busting people’s balls who are childfree and have pretty flexible professional jobs and live in the hollywood, downtown and santa monica area who insist on driving everywhere, but I’m not really about doing that same kind of annoying behavior in sections of the city that people just don’t feel safe, because there is a real danger to be out at 10pm on a bike or waiting for a bus.

    Until we make it safe for everyone to cycle, walk and take public transit I’m not into laws or fees to force people into doing it, unless those laws and fees come with a guarantee that everyone will be protected and treated equally, like people won’t ask a person applying for an eight bucks an hour job if they have a car or how about having the sheriffs that Metro has hired actually protect the people of South LA instead of police them and how about having those Sheriffs patrol the overnight routes in less safe areas instead of hanging around Pershing Square drinking coffee at 10am. An area while it may be stinky it’s pretty safe, well except for that guy who keeps asking me if I want to buy some Vicodin.


  • Spokker

    “because they thought that is what you needed to have and do in order to be cool.”

    Some still think that. At my school the big scandal was a bunch of seniors who took a jeep out to the desert, started drinking and flipped the goddamn thing over and they all died. Shrug. If they were that irresponsible they would have probably killed themselves in some other way (binge drinking in college probably).

    I was a freshman at the time and even I thought it was a monumentally stupid thing that they did. Don’t think all teenagers are like the quartet of jerkoffs I just mentioned.

    They showed Red Asphalt in high school. If that doesn’t make young people think twice then nothing will.

  • Spokker

    You make a good point about young people not knowing a thing about the potential mass transit systems that could serve them. When I was 14-15 I wanted the freedom to go where I wanted and I was probably quite annoying asking my mom to drive me places. Most of the time she said no. In retrospect I don’t blame her.

    I had some awareness that Metrolink existed in those days. I saw the trains all the time. But it never occurred to me that I, yes, I could hop on a train and go somewhere. I hadn’t really thought of the bus as an option. I remember taking it once or twice but our house was far away from a bus stop. Then again, it didn’t occur to me that I could take my bike and put it on the front of the bus. It just didn’t pop into my head.

    If I had to do it over again I would have taken the bus to my friends’ houses, to the arcade, to the movies, whatever. Back then I was curious about Los Angeles but my parents never had any reason or desire to go there. I could have gone on my own back then!


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