by: Julie Roehm | AOL Autos

    In 2007, there were 10.6 million automobile accidents in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. "Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The CDC also states that among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:

    1. Males: In 2006, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.

    2. Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.

    3. Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.

    These are frightening statistics whether you have teenagers at home or not. But do these statistics justify graphic, disturbing, and gory ads and public service announcements (PSA) on TV? You be the judge.

    These first three ads are from Volkswagen, and while its Safe Happens campaign wasn’t strictly a PSA, it took on that tone. VW has frequently been on the forefront of progressive, clutter-breaking advertising and these ads were no exception.

    This first ad features two friends simply talking as they drive through the suburban streets.

    This next one takes the same approach, but this time with a group of teens talking about a movie they have just seen. Interesting when you couple this seemingly innocent car ride with the statistics above regarding teens driving with other teen passengers.

    This last ad from VW features two women talking about none other than a graphic commercial where a car accident is featured ... irony at its best.

    I recall the first time I saw these ads on television. They certainly got my attention and also got me to think more about safety, so the campaign clearly did its job. I recall the furor over these ads at the time. People were complaining that they were far too graphic and disturbing.

    Since that time, however, the issue of distracted driving has become all that more pressing. Texting has become a major cause of traffic accidents in the U.S. Anyone who drives with regularity has seen someone texting in the next lane or worse, been behind someone that is swerving with their head down, punching away at their phone.

    The most recent example of this has been Dr. Frank Ryan, better known as the plastic surgeon who transformed reality television star Heidi Montag into a walking Barbie doll. He drove off the side of a cliff in California this summer, reportedly while texting and driving. This conjures up some pretty disturbing mental images to be sure, but likely nothing compared to what you will see in this public anti-texting announcement developed in the U.K.

    Fair warning, this is very graphic.

    Clearly this ad goes to great lengths to make its point, but it has received well over a million views on YouTube. If you felt that VW crossed a line, there will be no question as to your thoughts on this one.

    Still, is this the only way to get our attention in this Attention Deficit Disorder society? Can we only break through the clutter of the distractions in our lives and in our media with graphic messages like these?

    The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership felt that getting an auto safety related message to people could be done differently.

    Here, we get all the emotion and all of the impact that we received from the gorier anti-texting ad before it but without the violence. This ad too has been passed around and viewed well over a million times. Unlike the other ads, however, this one leaves you with a smile instead of a look of shock.

    So which is the more persuasive, memorable and impactful? Only the viewer can say for sure but I would submit that from time to time, it is important to remind people of the reality of their decisions, even if that means some graphic visuals. Still, the public can only handle so much of that type of message on an ongoing basis. To that end, the Sussex ad offers a creative and effective alternative. Hopefully, other PSA developers will take note.

    Top Safety Picks 2010 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
    Buick LaCrosse
    Ford Taurus
    Hyundai Genesis (built after 1/2010)
    Lincoln MKS
    Mercedes E class (built after 1/2010)
    Volvo S80

    Honda Civic (4-door (except Si) with optional ESC)
    Kia Forte (built after 10/2009)
    Kia Soul
    Nissan Cube
    Scion xB
    Subaru Impreza (except WRX)
    Toyota Corolla
    VW Golf (4-door)

    Audi A3
    Chevrolet Malibu (built after 11/2009)
    Chrysler Sebring (4-door w/optional ESC)
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    Hyundai Sonata (2011 models)
    Mercedes C class
    Subaru Legacy
    Subaru Outback
    Volkswagen Jetta (sedan)
    Volkswagen Passat (sedan)
    Volvo C30 (2010-11 models)
    Dodge Journey
    Subaru Tribeca
    Volvo XC60
    Volvo XC90

    Honda Element
    Jeep Patriot (w/optional side torso airbags)
    Subaru Forester
    Volkswagen Tiguan

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    1 - 20 of 265 Comments
    dudeitsjocko Dec 08, 2010 6:48 PM
    I say if it disturbs you and angers you... Good! Then you will remember it and you will remember you should wear a seat belt. (but on the other side i understand. seeing a dead baby might not be needed. its real life you say. Right. same for gaunaria and genital warts but we don't see pictures of that do we?) or maybe people will start to use condoms more if we do see the pictures. or what about abortions.. do we need to see dead fetus's ? I tell you if they did that they would really get some good reviews. lol.. eww what nasty world we live in.
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    braigno2 Dec 07, 2010 3:51 PM
    the embrace life commercial is one of my favorite for its brilliance and powerful message, however without the musical score , most will dismiss this as a comical one , the score is very powerful and must be heard to get your spine tingling .
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    stpat51 Dec 02, 2010 1:36 PM
    I don't believe they can go too far especially when it comes to young/new drivers. They think they are invincible and that it can't happen to them. People drive like idiots and don't realise how the people they left behind are hurt. I have know too many people that have died in accidents that could have been prevented. Every driver should know that it is a privilege to have a drivers license and they should respect each other on the road. A moment of showing off can end up a nightmare for those left behind.
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    dmellnick Dec 01, 2010 11:01 PM
    Julie, sadly so many people take the mistaken attitude that it won't happen to them. So, they gamble that it won't. As a consequence, they go merrily along assuming these things happen to other people. And, at the same time, they expect the manufacturers to take responsibility if in fact it ever happens to them. Albeit, some manufacturers ignored defects in their car designs. For too long a time, American companies had the attitude that safety wasn't a "sell item." I won't even touch on the build quality and the designed obsolescence issue. Point being, even the best engineered cars on the planet don't come with a life insurance guarantee. There is a limit to how much impact a crumple zone can handle and how much energy airbags can absorb. Ultimately, the most important safety feature in any vehicle is the driver! That person is responsible for anything that happens when behind the wheel. I think the gory presentation presents a "worse case" for what can happen when the driver doesn't take that responsibility.
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    kronos5012 Dec 01, 2010 12:22 PM
    Ok first of all, the second commercial is not about teens driving. Those people look like they are 30. So come on now. Second, I don't believe those "statistics" about teen drivers. When i was a teen i knew few people who got into wrecks and the majority were female(I knew a whole lot of people, too.) And lastly, that commercial from the U.K. was ridiculous. Informing children about safety by giving them the nightmare of a dead baby for a month isn't the right way to go ************ honestly i think this article is an over all fail.
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    lulofs888 Dec 01, 2010 9:10 AM
    Practice what you preach.....sum it up in half the words But it was far too long for a commercial. Four minutes is an eternity in commercial land. They could have edited that thing down to 60 or 90 seconds, and it would have been much better. There was far too much extraneous material that should have hit the cutting room floor
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    creasert Nov 30, 2010 11:04 PM
    People were upset about the first three commercials? Someone was in a car accident, no one got hurt. What's to object to? People said they were graphic? Graphic what? Bending of steel? To each his own bizarre opinion, I suppose. The texting ad did an excellent job of showing not only the direct impact of texting and driving on the driver and passengers, but the collateral damage that ensued. The non-responsive baby was a brilliant touch. But it was far too long for a commercial. Four minutes is an eternity in commercial land. They could have edited that thing down to 60 or 90 seconds, and it would have been much better. There was far too much extraneous material that should have hit the cutting room floor. When I lived in NZ fourteen years ago, they had just started to introduce graphic commercials about auto safety. They still stand out in my mind today. But I do remember one objection that I heard that seemed pretty valid. It wasn't an objection to playing the commercials at all, but playing them too often that they begin to lose their edge. The reason the commercials have such an impact or are found objectionable is that we've been conditioned to expect commercials not to have that kind of violence in them. Because really, the UK commercial about texting wasn't any more graphic than an episode of ER, and yet the VW commercials were getting people's panties in a wad. So I don't think it's so much the graphic nature of the commercials we really object to, but the fact that the advertisers pulled the rug out from under us when we weren't expecting it. And that's what gives such an ad its power. You over play ads like that, and we'll become habituated, and they'll lose their impact. And that's what they have going for them. I'm all for having ads like the UK ad here in the states. Just don't overdo it. Sneak 'em in every so often to shock me out of my complacency. That's how those ads would be effective. As far as the last ad is concerned, it does not have the same level of emotion or impact as the one before it. And I seriously doubt the writer actually believes that. It was a clever ad, and its message was clear. But it doesn't fill me with a burning need to wear my seat belt. It was cute, but I don't think it's going to save any lives.
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    ronbo749 Nov 30, 2010 6:10 PM
    I have a teenage daughter who was recently in a wreck because of the neglect of the driver not paying attention thank god she wasn't seriously injured but after that she has a different outlook I just wish we had ads like that in the US so maybe teens can see the reality of what does happen when you are driving and not pay attention, not only are our teens getting killed so are innocent people. They need to make more ads like this maybe it will open some peoples eyes.
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    juliadesl Nov 30, 2010 2:13 PM
    I think that the very graphic add with the girls texting is most appropriate to show to the younger population. Just as the teens who viewed it said they had been told many many times but the graphic reality of that video hit home. I like the last less violent one and have previously viewed it and also found it to have a powerful message but I don't think that it would have the same impact on teenagers as the more graphic. Teenagers are egotistical and at the stage of development when they believe that they are invincible. I certainly remember how daring I was during those years and it is a wonder that I lived through it.
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    bryanalv Nov 30, 2010 1:07 PM
    We need commercials like this in the US. Period.
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    hercarebear80 Nov 30, 2010 1:04 PM
    I believe that we need ads just like these here in America. Yes they are vary graphic and very shocking but thats what makes them work. Which comercial do you think would have more of a lasting impression and get the point across? A comercial that you walk away from with a smile on your face and then forget about as soon as you start to do something, like homework or taking care of your children or really anything that requires a little brain power, or is it the comercial that makes your jaw drop and almost throw up. Yes they are disturbing but we remember them almost as if they are burned into our brains and that is what people need, especially new drivers and people who text or talk or put on make up while driving or doing ANYTHING else that is distracting while you are driving!!!!! I believe that anyone who wants to get a drivers license should be required to watch several of these types of comercials. For those of you who still feel they are too much, I truely am sorry for. I do wish there was no need for these things in the first place. The thing is, almost NO ONE obeys all of our traffic laws anymore so we have a real problem on our hands and unfortunaly this seems to be the best way to deal with it. Right now the only way to stop people from being stupid while driving is for them to actually get into an accident
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    partyreptile Nov 30, 2010 12:39 PM
    It takes two for an accident to occur in many cases ... the idiot driving too fast or reckless AND the person not paying attention to whats happening behind, in front of, and to the sides. If you drive without distractions like doing ANYTHING with your mind or hands other than driving & watching things around you, you are allowing the idiot driver to take you by surprise. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part it takes two to have an accident (that involves 2 that is ... sometimes the idiot can do quite well on his own).
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    gtoya1331 Nov 30, 2010 12:32 PM
    ad of the year? Really?
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    nfdecastro Nov 30, 2010 12:05 PM
    IMO, the safety of a vehicle is entirely dependent upon the safety and sobriety of the driver of the vehicle itself. I don't believe that driving a car stuffed full of airbags crammed in every crevice can save your life if you're too drunk or sleepy to make that last turn and drive off a cliff or head-on into opposing traffic. Pay attention to your surroundings, and you will probably survive the drive home tonight.
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    reil9p Nov 30, 2010 11:58 AM
    the last one was missing the air bag! lol
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    ellentd Nov 30, 2010 11:51 AM
    I find all of these ads very powerful. In terms of what touches deeper and makes an impact, or is transformative, ultimately it has to do with the consciousness of the individual watching. If it is just fear that is triggered, then I feel that it cannot really be deeply transformative but at best result in behavior modification. In that light, the "embrace life" ad is a far more powerful approach to touching our hearts and waking awareness and love up to itself (resulting in responsible action). It inspires and speaks to our sense of life and connection, rather than our fear of death or destruction. We can ask ourselves, which motivates awareness, and responsible, wakeful action more intrinsically, integrally, and efficiently: fear and terror, or the kind of love and connection expressed in the embrace life ad? Fear is tension that can also be divorced in conscious awareness from "embracing life" and the sense of love and wholeness that would embrace life . Fear can obscure or distort perception. When love of life motivates us, there is an innate sense of awareness, and connection at play, unobstructed by a sense of separation and the tensions of fear. Although I do see value in facing and being real about possible horrific outcomes, another possible pitfall of this approach is that one can fall prey to postulating and actualizing negative outcomes when that is where they put all of their energy (even in resisting or trying to avoid them). Our fear based and extrinsically motivated educational paradigms enculturate the disconnection behind attention deficit disorders, dissociation, and irresponsible action. We are used to learning through being punished (by parents, teachers, or the disasters in life) - and do not trust ourselves to learn otherwise. We are used to going towards the achievement of a grade, trophy, or monetary gain, and not the joy of learning, discovering, creating, and experiencing in itself. We are used to being overstimulated to where we want more and more just to avoid boredom, and are less and less sensitive to subtlety and our own creative will. The "embrace life" ad is offering another educational paradigm that I feel speaks to and calls forward our innate creative intelligence, and mirrors the heart's deeper truth and the soul's yearning. (This is the first time I have seen any of these ads)
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    joydky Nov 30, 2010 11:41 AM
    As a former auto insurance claim representative and manager for over 30 years, I believe both the texting PSA and the seat belt PSA should be broadcast in the United States. The texting PSA is not too graphic when you consider the audience of 16 year olds, adults, and even children whose lives are affected when an accident like this happens. The PSA shows the reality and consequences of not being attentive when driving. The somewhat "innocent" act of texting can cause heartbreak, death, guilt, remorse, and pain for the rest of one's life. An accident doesn't just affect the at-fault party. In this PSA and as in real life, innocent parties are left orphaned; others sustain catastrophic injuries; and some will live the rest of their lives with the horrid nightmares and consequences of their "seemingly innocent" actions. These PSAs accurately show that not all accidents are caused by "drunk drivers" or "bad people". Even without texting being involved, you can lose your life or cause someone else to lose their life as you are driving down the road just laughing and having a good time with your friends. That's the reality. The graphic depiction in these PSA is warranted because even as graphic and sad as they are, they don't come close to showing the real life loss and pain of being involved in an accident. The accident doesn't just affect the people in the cars. Although I have not been involved in a serious accident, I have dealt firsthand in the course of my job with people who lost a child or parent, sister or brother, other relative or a friend due to an auto accident. If one person driving or riding in a car understands the long term "real life consequences" of a simple act, and perhaps even tells someone else, maybe 50 or more people will be spared the personal loss of just one loved one. I am sure an auto safety ad can be made that goes too far. However, in my opinion, these PSAs do not. If a young person or an adult has seen the blood and gore that is shown in movies or TV programs today, they can handle the truth depicted in these two excellent Public Service Announcements (emphasis on "public service"). The VW PSAs are okay but I doubt they will come as close as the others in saving lives. I have never left a comment on any website until today but this is a subject I feel passionately about. I will get off my soapbox for now.
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    ironjoe3 Nov 30, 2010 11:34 AM
    This is the other side, car adds promote, speeding and aggresive driving. Who would have tought that I need 350hp - 500hp in my car. 35,000 are killed on US highways, driving is the most dangerous activity that we do. We need to take responsibility and drive like are lives are a stake.
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    carolyncjbcjb Nov 30, 2010 11:04 AM
    Great advertisement.!!!!!!..from one whos been there and lived through it...wish i was in a VW with all those airbags when it happened.especially the passenger side ones..wouldve saved me from all the pain of broken bones...
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    hotrodbister Nov 30, 2010 10:47 AM
    The graphic ad is by far better. The other ad is touching but is also quite cheesy. Daddy is getting hugs from his family.... oh, how sweet. Now, imagine killing that family because you had to send a text message. Cheesy ads might work well with adults (whom have spouses and kids) but probably not so much w/ teenagers. Oh, and since when was reality too graphic? And, what to most might seem completely unrelated (but in my head it is not), why do vegatarians wear leather shoes?
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