Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Injustice and Public Opinion

The police in Gwent, UK have recently released a video on texting while driving. Their hope was that "the film will become part of the core schools programme across Wales and ultimately the UK."

Gwent Chief Inspector John Pavett said, “Making and receiving calls and texting whilst driving is still happening on roads not just in Gwent but all over the country. Seeing a scenario, like the one Cassie goes through, played out right before your eyes makes you realise how extremely dangerous it can be and what devastating consequences it can have."

The four-minute Gwent Police PSA has been widely viewed on YouTube. Here's a key frame.

The PSA as generated controversy and commentary about the role of fear appeals in advertising, particularly in communication programs directed to youth audiences.

However, the UK commercial not only speaks to individual risk but to responsibilities drivers have to others. The child who dies in the PSA was not texting.

The Gwent PSA not only portrays individual risk, but also the injustice of the horrific consequences that can befall innocent others.

So there is another perspective on this PSA worth considering. It is the role that perceptions of injustice play in social change.

In the United States, there is currently a national debate about the safety of drivers using devices that distract from their paramount responsibilities. Without a sufficient public sense of injustice in this matter, the debate will fall short when it comes to legislative action.

The Gwent PSA makes any driver think, on a number of levels.

Copyright © 2009 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.