10 January 2014

New Zealand anti-speeding public service announcement

This campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they're driving. A person may be a good driver but they can't deny that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human. And in life, mistakes are made often. We usually get to learn from our mistakes; but not when driving - the road is an exception...

Our new campaign targets competent drivers who regularly drive and put the 'Ks' in. These people drive 'comfortably' fast; typically a bit faster than the posted speed limit or other traffic. But they don't consider it to be wrong or anti-social because it's not really 'speeding' in their minds. They feel competent and in control of their vehicle.


  1. There is no denying that the ad is powerful.

    But I think it's a mistake to ask people to keep the speed limits. The effects here (in Sweden) has been that people keep the speed on the signs no matter what - even if they are too high for the situation (as in the ad, other drivers) or the weather (ice, snow), driving like the signs can understand the situation. And then they don't quite understand why accidents happen or why they are on the roof in a field - they kept the speed limit...?

    In other regions they have higher speed limits (England, Germany), with 60mph on small overland roads. It's often impossible to keep those speeds, unless you have a track-optimized car. I find that that speed limit encourages the drivers to think for themselves which speed might be suitable. (And the drivers who would drive too fast anyway, still drive too fast regardless of the signs.)

    That said, I have no idea about the NZ ruleset.

  2. Definitely one our best anti-speeding ads. The other "popular" ad here a couple of years ago was for not driving drunk. Popular as several of its phrases entered mainstream conversation

  3. If only he was going just a little bit faster ..... there would have been no accident.
    Speed up a little and live !

  4. Rocket: it's not always possible, or advisable to go faster.

    I tend to have a lead foot myself, but I really only speed where its safe enough, such as on the freeway, and even there I'm careful.

  5. I know folks who are habitual speeders who I've called on it they give answers like "I know the road"... what if the other guy doesn't?

  6. I like the idea, but as always with PSAs it relies quite a bit on emotional thinking to influence people's behavior. That may be effective but well... I always had a bit of an issue with that.

    So let's try and think about that scenario rationally: the driver who the target audience is supposed to identify with is going 107 km/h, which is 7 km/h (4 mph) above the limit. The other driver makes the "mistake" of pulling out what.. 50, 100 meters in front of him? Then you have an impact that appears to be pretty much happening at full speed.

    So what if the first driver had been going 7 km/h slower? Do they gently bump against each other then? I don't think so.
    And what if you're going 20 km/h below the limit and the other guy pulls out even later? Oh and he has three kids in the back, one of them has cancer.

    1. As far as the physics goes, the vehicle's momentum may scale linearly to speed and mass of the vehicle, no big difference you might say. But try communicating the significant fact that reaction time to break is actually inversely proportional to speed in a one minute ad.

      There clearly is a shot of the guy hitting the break pedal, i'd say they did a pretty good job of communicating that he couldn't react fast enough.

      What if scenarios, can often be distracting. A good way to wrap my mind around them is to imagine 100 intersections and 100 incidents like that with slightly different speeds of the one car in question, then imagine a big hospital that does the final tally.

    2. Is reaction time inversely proportional to speed? I think that stays constant, what varies is the distance traveled during the time it takes to react. But then, the difference is still pretty insignificant. Let's say the reaction time is half a second:
      at 100 km/h, you cover 14 meters in that time,
      at 110 km/h, you cover 15 meters.

      I suggest that that meter isn't what separates life from death in this case.

    3. Let's get the math right. Kinetic energy is 0/5*mass*(speed)^2. Drop off all the constants and you end up with kinetic energy being the square of speed.

      Square the speed to find out how much energy the brakes have to bleed off. They can only do this so fast and the extra energy leads to extra distance.

      Example: Corvette Z badges typically scrub 60 mph off in 100 feet. Reverse engineer the equation to get 60 = 3600/36. This is just quick and dirty math so that 60 mph = 100 ft. Input 70 mph and you get 70 = 4900/36, which comes to 136 ft. Real life the Corvette needs 142 ft because heat build-up starts to effect the performance.

      Now mind you that this is a performance car that's made to minimize the effects of heat build-up, they have brake rotors that are bigger than the wheels on my last work car! Yet 10 mph equates to a 40%+ increased stopping distance.

      100 mph math comes to 278 ft, but real life is approx. 320 ft. Also keep mind that wind resistance is also massively helping the car to slow down at these speeds.

      Velocity squared (plus some more) tells you approx. how long it takes to stop. So small increases do lead to substantially different outcomes.

    4. We are getting close, I think. Dan, you are right, I should have said, remaining time to react, rather than reaction time, which driving schools teach as 2 seconds, though the best case scenario for a young, prepared, undistracted and focused driver is about 0.2 s.

      The difference between 107 and 100 km/h is almost exactly 2 meters per second...

      The second component that driving schools teach invoking a rule of thumb is the breaking distance, which as DubyaD described also contains a dependency on speed squared.

      So yeah, 2 dependencies on speed both non linear, hence non intuitive. Then there is the impact itself, in which the severity of injuries again is speed dependent, firstly as the vehicle is further slowed down absorbed by metal deformation, secondly by unevenly accelerating the victims bodies causing injuries like whiplash, then finally decelerating them again causing blunt trauma.

      So overall there are at least 5 different additive physics effects, all of which are related to the speed difference in bigger than linear proportion.

    5. Thanks, Anon and DubyaD, I understand your points. Maybe the way I expressed my opinion gave the wrong impression, I'm not trying to argue with the physics (it is undeniable that more speed is always detrimental in a collision), but with the overall message.

      You could have the exact same ad, but without the shot of the speedometer showing 107 km/h, and in my opinion it would be even better. If the guy hadn't been speeding, would he have no responsibilities in the accident then? Legally perhaps not, but I still think he would. The message should be "adapt your speed to the situation", but by putting the emphasis on the speed limit it gets derailed to "obey the law".

      How can a nationally-defined limit be adapted to all possible situations? It can't! Just obeying it doesn't insure your safety, or that of others.

    6. Dan, just to note that you can technically be booked for speeding even if you were driving below the posted limit, if in the circumstances it was obviously an unsafe speed to drive at.

      Where I live, the law states: "A person must not drive a vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public." Note that posted limits aren't mentioned in that particular clause. The exact wording will be different in your country/state, but I bet there's an equivalent.

      Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/rta1961111/s46.html

  7. Very sad. It's so easy to lose track of what's important. Bottom line: playing Speed Racer is for dicks. Slow the fuck down, assholes.

  8. But again....if only he was going a little bit faster, there would have been no accident.
    The advert clearly implies that the guy in the wagon is in the wrong by travelling at 107kph, and legally he is, but the guy in the four wheel drive (what you Americans call sovs or suces or something for some reason, ever tried doing 'sports' driving in a vehicle that big ?) must have a death wish to pull out in front of the oncoming vehicle. Really, if this was reality, I would expect him, the puller outer, to be done for murder, of his son and the other driver.
    And in reality, I have been in the same situation many times, except I was always doing less than the speed limit. And I have daylight running lights permanently on. Was I in the wrong because some idiot pulled out right in front of me ? I drive a Saab Aero and I thank those blonde willowy Swedes for making such a lovely car with stiffened suspension and low profile tyres and especially the ANTI LOCK BRAKES !!! because all those things mean I can avoid the morons by stopping or swerving. I also slow down to near stop at green lights of an evening or light traffic situations because I have seen too many drivers jump the red light. AND I constantly use my mirrors. You reckon it's speed that kills ? I reckon it's bad driving, lack of knowledge of the road rules and huge inattention to whats going on around you. The people who stop at give way signs when there are no vehicles around, the people who drive right out on the centre line, doing 17 kph below the speed limit, blind to the line of frustrated drivers behind them, and of course, the people who just pull out thinking the other vehicle must have seen them and will slow down.


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