Don't text and drive. You've heard it from dozens of road safety groups over the years, but now the message is coming from a new source: BMW. The German automaker recently announced a national campaign against distracted driving, set to begin in June and run throughout the year.
Timed to coincide with the beginning of the summer driving season, the campaign will include television, print, online and radio ads as well as dealership displays that draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving. Dubbed "DON'T TXT & DRIVE – When the engine starts, the texting stops," the campaign will feature both distracting images and viewpoints of preoccupied drivers.
"Distracted driving of any kind, especially texting while driving, is an extremely dangerous activity that costs thousands of lives every year," said Jim O'Donnell, BMW of North America's chief executive. "We developed the campaign to be impactful in hopes of evoking emotion and conveying the serious dangers of distracted driving and its potential consequences."
And impactful it is. In one television ad, parents are shown obsessively making sure their kids use pool water wings, bike helmets, heavy coats and hand sanitizer, but still casually texting with their kids in the car. The ad closes with an impending collision and the tagline "Stay Focused on Safety." Meanwhile, a print ad shows a driver's viewpoint with a phone in his hands, obscuring his view of a child crossing the road.
"Distracted driving is an epidemic in America, and it has deadly consequences for thousands of people on our roads each year," said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I am grateful to BMW for their efforts to raise public awareness about distracted driving and for urging drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road."
The program isn't BMW's first initiative to combat texting while driving. At the BMW Performance Center near the automaker's Spartanburg, South Carolina factory, its Teen Driving School has actively promoted a "Don't Text and Drive" campaign for several years. But the large-scale ad campaign will do more, placing increased attention on the growing problem of distracted driving.