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There are three videos on the dangers of cell phones and driving that have gotten a lot of attention this year. All three represent radically different approaches to vehicular safety education videos, primarily geared toward teens: One features an emotional appeal, another uses comedy and the last skews graphic and violent. But only one is an internet sensation. (You can guess which it is.)

The internet phenomenon comes from a small township in Wales called Gwent. The local police force merely wanted to update a vehicular safety film that would be shown in schools, so the department did some research into what teens thought was impactful. “We asked young people what was the thing that they thought was now the most dangerous for their age group, and they said mobile phones and, in particular, texting,” said Chief Constable Mick Giannasi.

“Young people were telling us, ‘It needs to be more shocking, it needs to be more violent, it needs to be more truthful,’” adds Peter Watkins-Hughes, the film’s director. So he went for grim realism. And when he put a graphic four-minute clip online to show colleagues, the small project wound up going monumentally viral.

In the vid, a young female driver, heading down the road with a couple of friends, is shown texting at the wheel. She doesn’t realize that the car is starting to drift into the other lane, toward oncoming traffic. As other vehicles smash into the car, the camera zooms in on her friends as their heads bash into windows, killing them. Another close-up shows a dead baby in the other car as rescue workers attempt to free the victims from the crash.

At last count, this clip has garnered more than four million views on YouTube and other sites.

In contrast, two vids from the States took softer approaches. The film from the National Safety Council (which I blogged about previously) pulled at the heartstrings as family members talked about loved ones who died due to distracted driving. The other is kind of strange, in that it uses humor to “connect” with young adults. In a spot created earlier this year, comedian Fred Willard tells a teen driver he will “haunt you silly” if the kid doesn’t pay attention and stop texting.

Which one do you think is the most effective? Or will nothing work without legislation and penalties? (Currently, texting and driving is still legal in most states.)

Check out the vids here:

Gwent PSA vid

Advertising Council/Fred Willard PSA

National Safety Council's “Death by Cell Phone: If You Care, We Can Make A Difference”

[via The New York Times]

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