In this PSA from the Safe Roads Alliance, a fake taxi driver freaks out some real-life New York cab passengers by appearing to drink alcohol at the wheel. In hidden-camera footage, their reactions are immediate and outraged, with people asking him to pull over, grabbing the drink from his hand and telling him he should be "locked up."
However, this is not an anti-drunk-driving ad. The film then poses the question: What causes more injuries than drunken driving? The next segment of footage shows the same fake driver using his cellphone at the wheel, even checking with his passengers if it's OK to text and asking one lady what LOL means. The passengers hardly seem to notice and even seem mildly amused -- certainly no one admonishes him.
The film, created by Mullen Lowe and directed by Station Film's Sam Cadman, has been released to coincide with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to data from the U.S. National Safety Council, talking on a mobile phone while driving increases accident risk by four times, and texting while driving increases accident risk by between eight and 23 times.
However, as the film shows, while drunk driving is now viewed as unacceptable behavior, many people still tolerate phone use at the wheel.
Mullen Lowe Creative Director John Kearse said in a statement: "People text and drive. These same people know that texting and driving is a bad idea. Yet, in a classic case of 'It won't happen to me,' they continue to do it. Far more people are injured in distracted driving accidents than drunk driving. Obviously, drunk driving is nothing to joke about, and is something any reasonable person would classify as a terrible idea. Why do we view texting and driving differently?"
Kearse also noted that the cabbie (who is a former New York City cabbie in real life) was actually drinking water and energy drinks -- and the texting sounds were all prerecorded.