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SA's distracted drivers: Texting killers?

2015-06-08 10:08


TEXTING AND DRIVING: Arrive Alive highlights SA's growing scourge of texting while driving with a series of controversial ads aimed at distracted drivers. Image: Arrive Alive


The National Department of Transport has drafted a series of new road regulations. Siphesihle Dube, spokesperson for the Western Cape MEC of transport responds...

CAPE TOWN, Western Province - Wheels24 has published many articles about distracted driving, be it driving while using your cellphone or highlighting the dangers of using smart watches on the road.

Many road-safety campaigners focus on the use of mobile devices behind the wheel, some going so far as to suggest those who text/drive are potential killers on the road.

South African road safety organisation Arrive Alive has taken this approach a step further… in collaboration with advertising agency Lowe and Partners it has released a series of ads that compare distracted drivers to serial killers.


The ads show dark, threatening, faces illuminated by cellphone light with ominous texts such as "I'm on my way to get you now" or "I'll wait for you at the top of UR road".

IMAGE GALLERY: 'If you text and drive you're a killer' - Arrive Alive

Given SA’s appalling road death toll it makes sense but are they effective?

READ: New SA road rules: 20km/h speed cuts

Arrive Alive said: “We all know that drinking and driving is seriously dangerous but did you know that texting and driving is more dangerous than driving drunk?

“The truth is that drivers who text and drive are 23% more likely to be involved in a crash. Most South Africans are not concerned enough about the implications of texting and driving. Currently South Africa experiences about 16 000 deaths a year on the roads (10 times more than Sweden and three times more than the US).

Agency Lowe and Partners adds:“With this in mind we created a campaign for Arrive Alive bringing home the very real danger of texting and driving. Our aim was to convey that when you text and drive you are a danger not only to yourself but to others too.”


Wheels24 spoke to Arrive Alive editor Johan Jonck to find out more:

Arrive Alive said: “The developers of the online Arrive Alive road safety initiative believe in the importance of public private partnerships in efforts to increase road safety awareness. The Arrive Alive initiative receives no funding from government and have limited means and manpower to fund any advertising initiatives ourselves.

“We appreciate any support from companies and individuals who are able to assist in these efforts through their technical expertise.

“Two of these campaigns dealt with very important aspects required to make roads safer for all - The need to avoid driving distracted and the need to have all passengers buckled in inside the vehicle / wearing their seat belt.

“The ‘If you text and drive you're a killer’ campaign has a powerful message to alert road users not to use their cellular phones while driving. Research has shown that texting while driving can be as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than drunk driving. This complements the advertising campaign by the Western Cape's Safely Home on some of the road signage we find on the N1.”


Wheels24: Why create these controversial ads?

JJ: “We are dealing with a very diverse group of road users and need to acknowledge that there is no one size fits all campaign. What will appeal to one road user might not to another.

“There needs to be a blend between the hard -hitting rather direct messages and the softer also though provoking ‘value-of-human-life’ messages.

W24: Do you think your adverts will curb road deaths?

JJ: “We find online responses such as ‘this made me think’ or ‘Never gonna text and drive again’. If these are true it is a step in the right direction. As the saying goes in the movie 'Schindler’s List', ‘Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire’."

Read: SA's new road rules: What YOU say

Wheels24: What are some of the main challenges in trying to reduce road deaths in SA?

JJ: “Some of the biggest issues on SA’s roads are combating lawlessness and changing road behaviour. We require effective visible traffic enforcement to remove threats from the roads.

“We also need to create an attitude towards compliance of rules of the road and unselfish, thoughtful behaviour. Until this is achieved we will need to focus on defensive driving ourselves with the alertness that there are so many reckless and lawless road-users sharing the roads!”

Do you think Arrive Alive's new ad campaign will be effective? Email us  and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

More hard-hitting road safety campaigns:

Shock dashcam-clips: Distracted teens driving
Safely Home: Child pedestrian fatality map
Safely Home: CCTV crash footage
W Cape traffic resorts to shock tactics
Only in Russia: Stop a road 'douchebag'   


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