Thursday, April 25, 2024
NewsIIHS VP Says Go-Fast Ads Undermine On-Road Safety

IIHS VP Says Go-Fast Ads Undermine On-Road Safety

Time to slow down ads says safety advocate

  • Safety researcher suggests bad behaviour pushed by performance ads

  • Finds nearly half of ads focus on performance


The safety regulators at the IIHS say it’s time to slow down the ads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the people who bring you the most comprehensive crash tests around, and one of the group’s top researchers says that fast cars in ads could be causing more crashes in real life.

“A sleek, silver sedan races through the aisles of a shipping container storage yard, pursued by a menacing motorcycle. The sedan windows are tinted just enough that you can imagine yourself as the driver. The motorcycle is gaining ground, so you turn down an aisle currently being worked by a crane. As you blow past the crane, it lowers a shipping container, blocking the motorcycle. You’re safe. Or are you?” writes VP of Research and Statistical Services Chuck Farmer.

He said that research shows that media affects viewer behaviour, which isn’t a surprise. A look at advertising shows that performance was a theme in nearly half of all vehicle ads in 2017.

“Perhaps these ads are just harmless fun. One might suppose that the viewer is aware enough to separate fantasy from reality, and we all know that speeding is dangerous. We’re all above-average drivers. We would never try to imitate the extreme stunt driving seen in the ads. But might we be tempted to push the boundaries of speed just a bit?” Farmer writes.

Risky driving behaviour surged during the pandemic, and it has continued to increase after. That comes with more deaths and injuries related to dangerous driving and speed. Cities are responding with lower limits and traffic calming, but Farmer says it’s not enough.

He ends his insight on a somber note, likening speeding to drunk driving. “Advertisers must treat unsafe speed the same way they would treat drunk driving or failure to use a seat belt — behaviors they wouldn’t think of showing in a positive light. The thrill of moving at extreme speeds should be confined to amusement parks and virtual reality games. Today’s vehicles are more reliable, more efficient, more comfortable, and safer than ever before. Shouldn’t that be enough of a selling point?”

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