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This Chilling Ad Might Scare You Into Driving Slower

Every time you drive a car, especially if you're driving more than 20 miles per hour, you're making split-second life-and-death decisions.

We don’t think about that very much. Driving becomes routine. And when that happens, we make mistakes. They may be small, but the speed and power of automobiles can magnify even a minor human error into a life-altering event.

This public service announcement from New Zealand is about such a mistake. It dramatizes the potential consequences in a way that you're unlikely to forget once you see it. Warning: It is disturbing, not because of any graphic images, but because it so harshly depicts the real emotional consequences of carelessness behind the wheel.

We don’t have PSAs like this in the United States. Instead, we have a lot of ads that show cars tearing around urban environments at top speed, including one for the Nissan Rogue in which a woman shortens her commute by accelerating up an on-ramp from a city street and driving her car on top of a train.

"Fantasy, do not attempt," says the tiny message at the bottom.

That ad got some backlash this week, but not because of the dangerous behavior it depicts. It was because it aired too often during football games that a lot of Americans watch. Tens of millions of people got the message that Nissan was sending, until they became bored by it.

What if all those people had seen the New Zealand ad even once?

Sarah Goodyear has written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog. She lives in Brooklyn. All posts »

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