VicRoads, Victoria registration and licensing service, annually addresses driver car safety and road safety with ad campaigns for radio and television broadcasting. The most recent campaign took a different tack this year using dark humour rather than scare tactics. This campaign is similar to the 1990 drink-driving campaign which used “bloody idiot,” to shock and awe the public into driving their vehicles safely. The focus of this campaign is on mobile phone use while driving and not wearing seat belts. This safety awareness campaign has also become a national issue with its “Don’t be a dickhead” motto, striking the sensitivities of would-be censors.
Dan Ilic of Downwind Productions spearheaded the effort to make car driver safety less of a preaching session and more an awareness of the negative peer pressure for not driving safely Another innovation of the National Australian Driving Campaign was the use of YouTube and Facebook to target young car drivers as well as the traditional TV and radio public announcements to encourage better driving habits. Tim Pallas, Roads Minister, stated the tone of the campaign is necessary to relate to young people as past campaigns have not. Opposition to the “dickhead” campaign is against the respect agenda of the state government, causing a problem with adverse language use in classrooms.
Videos lampoon distracted and impaired driving rather than portray the gory videos from accident scenes involving teens that had been used before to scare young drivers. Two “Don’t be a dickhead” videos involve a portrayal of a teen receiving angel wings and a pole-speared accident survivor speaking about his life-changing accident. Other videos depict a surgeon and air traffic controller using their cell phones while performing life-and-death duties. The hope of VicRoads is for teens to connect with the message “Don’t be a dickhead” rather than turning off the traditional scare tactics of past safety campaigns.
VicRoads also posted a video collection of its past road safety ad campaigns on YouTube. The collection was among the top three most viewed videos on YouTube competing with the “Don’t be a dickhead” campaign. At last count, the traffic fatality rate of young drivers stands at ten more than before the “dickhead” campaign began.
Perhaps the best idea for road safety is to encourage drivers to buy new cars as they are generally many times safer than aging cars thanks to technology advancements. After all you don’t want to rely on life insurance to look after your family in the event that the worst happens