Anti-Texting PSA Converts at Least One Viewer

Impossible Not to Rubberneck at Grisly Spot

By Published on .

Embarrassing as this is to admit, AdReview is one of those irresponsible morons who talks on the phone and checks his BlackBerry while driving.

No doubt anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and probably meteorologists and cosmetologists are hard at work investigating why the communications imperative is so irresistible that otherwise rational people put their own lives, and the lives of others, at risk by dealing with supply chains, dinner dates and PTA gossip while operating heavy machinery at 50 mph.

Title: Texting and Driving
Clientr: Gwent Police Authority
Agency: Tred Films, Newport, Wales
Yeah, multitasking is a zeitgeist experience, but we somehow manage not to play video games or balance our checkbooks or repair toasters in traffic. What is it about a fresh e-mail that so demands instant, reckless semi-attention? We ask this especially because there is probably no compulsive e-mail checker in automotive history -- and certainly no e-mail returner -- who has not veered across the yellow line.

Who has not felt that pins-and-needles flush of near-missdom?

Who has not sighed in relief and self-hatred at being a total phonetard? And yet we, the serially stupid, persist.

Or did. At least one of us has been chastened, thanks to a viral video produced by a regional Welsh police department, showing in horrifying detail the aftermath of a quadruple-fatal accident caused by a teenage driver texting behind the wheel.

It begins with three girls in a car, giddy but perfectly sober, laughing that one -- Cassie, the driver -- is texting a boy: "james my mate jules fancies u." Jules, embarrassed and thrilled, halfheartedly protests, but it is too late.

And it is too late. Cassie has crossed the center line, and they are in the path of an oncoming car.

What follows is a three-car accident, edited by intercutting choreographed collisions in regular motion with super-slow-mo images of the girls' being tossed about the passenger compartment in varying degrees of trauma. It is hard to watch, and impossible not to.

Cassie survives with minor injuries but realizes her friends are unconscious and critically hurt. She screams and wails in fear, terror and -- we presume -- guilt. Other motorists phone for help, and when it arrives we see an extremely realistic accident scene, with police, firefighters and EMTs attending to the victims. Most of the 4:16 is dedicated to the grim, methodical routine of the emergency personnel. At the car with the girls, they must use the Jaws of Life to pry the doors open.

In one of the other vehicles, the middle-age driver is motionless. In the third car, two adults are unconscious in the front seat. In the back: an infant and a 2-year-old girl.

"Mommy, Daddy, wake up. Mommy, Daddy, wake up," the child says. When a rescue worker opens the door, she asks, flatly, "When will Mommy and Daddy wake up?"

It isn't clear who is alive and who is dead. Six people, including the infant, are utterly still. The uncertainty makes the video all the more harrowing to take in.

Ordinarily, graphic displays of trauma and death have an effect opposite of what is intended. It's too horrible to deal with, and we shut down. Adolescents even tend to mock and dismiss the horror. But not in this case, we think.

Because the accident is over in a few seconds, and because we are witnessing mainly the unbearably routine aftermath, we are seduced into rubbernecking -- during which grisly eyewitnessing we can't help but confront the consequences of a few moments of driver inattention. We can't help but put our stupid selves in Cassie's flip-flops.

She is ultimately transported away by helicopter. We are left behind to gape at the wreckage. Look what we have done.

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