Cartoon Tuesday: Tales From the Dark Side (of the Road)

The UK Department for Transport’s no-holds-barred THINK! road safety campaign isn’t just for adults. This creepy toon, one in a series designed to influence how kids interact with auto traffic (here’s another), encourages bright colored clothing in favor of "trendy" darker tones when walking at night.

These spots bring to mind a number of questions. Is it possible to preach pedestrian safety to pedestrians without, even by implication, downplaying the responsibility of drivers? And when it comes to kids, is it possible — or responsible — to teach anything other than "Fear the car"

  • Wow. Next thing you know we’ll imply that people who walk without lights strapped to their body are inviting danger. “the girl who didn’t cover her body in bubble wrap and light up reflective foil.”

    She should have had on a walking helmet!

    I think a better message would be “If you have on dark clothes assume cars can’t see you since many drivers are careless.” This message promotes safety but still keeps the responsibility where it belongs.

    The list of excuses for reckless driving just keeps growing longer and longer. This little spot seems to be about keeping kids safe but really it’s about making adult drivers feel better about that time they almost knocked over a kid. They can think “It’s not my fault he had on dark clothes!” — dark clothes are hard to see… but it’s still your fault.

  • rex

    Creepy indeed. When will the madness end? Cars are a flipping disaster, but no one wants to look at it. 20,000 road deaths a week by the WHO’s counting. Now I should wear a vest at night. Unbelievable, it is completely uncivilized to suggest it!

  • I’m sorry but I have to totally agree with Susan, this is too much of blame the victim. I totally disagree with the message this type of PSA sends.

    “She was asking for it dressed like that.”

    Hopefully we’ll look back at this one day and find this thinking as offensive as it was when the same thing was said about rape victims not all that long ago.

  • No, not perfect. But AT LEAST the UK also addresses motorists with similar messages. The problems with this psa’s message are not quite so bad when you consider the way the overall THINK campaign does at least some balancing of responsibility.

    The challenege in the US, UK, and everywhere is getting drivers to just PRETEND that human beings exist around them. Then maybe the cartoon driver would have been able to stop in time before hitting the cartoon girl…

    To many drivers–even in crowded cities–appear to think that all roads are not actually on earth but are rather some sort of astral conveyance in some removed, separate reality. Not being funny–I really think that’s an unconscious effect that happens in a lot of drivers’ brains.

    But yeah, she was totally asking for it, wearing those clothes.

  • This “blame the victim” discussion reminds me of an extremely sad story from a week ago. David Meek, bicycle enthusiast and well-loved member of the bike community around Chattanooga, was struck by a truck around 6:30am. TN has a 3′ passing law for bikes, but the truck was far too close, entangling Meek’s saddlebag and flinging him into the roadway. Meek died. The police haven’t pressed charges because *maybe* Meek wasn’t wearing a reflective rest or *maybe* his rear light wasn’t angled correctly for the truck driver to see it. It’s a tremendous loss for the biking community down there, and such a sad state of society where we can seriously entertain blaming the victim.

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