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Cell Phones and Cars, a Lethal Mix

AutoWeek and Coyne Communications launch a graphic PSA campaign designed to shock drivers into changing behavior behind the wheel

DETROIT--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new public service ad campaign, premiering in the Feb. 22 issue of AutoWeek, uses startling graphic images to grab the public's attention regarding the dangers of distracted driving.

The campaign, called "Goodbye" was created by Coyne Communications, a marketing firm in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The ad series, created in partnership with AW, was designed with the hopes of shocking drivers and changing behavior behind the wheel.

"Distracted driving is stupid, stupid, stupid behavior," says Dutch Mandel, Associate Publisher and Editorial Director of AW. "There is no reason why you need to have a 6-ounce phone attached to your ear when you have a 4,000-pound car attached to your brain."

Tom Coyne, CEO and Creative Director of Coyne Communications, agrees. He points out that although several states have laws that ban cell phone use while driving; the public has reacted to these laws largely by ignoring them. "Our goal," Coyne says, "is to create awareness in order to change behavior. If we soft-pedal the message, absolutely nothing will change. We have to shock people into realizing that cell phones and cars are a lethal mix."

The statistics themselves tell the story. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving resulted in nearly 6,000 fatalities and 515,000 injuries last year alone. One in 20 crashes was linked to cell phones. Drivers who talk on cell phones are four times more likely to crash than those who don't; drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash. Even more startling is the fact that 87 percent of teen drivers admit to texting behind the wheel.

"What flabbergasts me," Mandel says, "is the measurable diminished capacity of your brain (18 percent) when you're on the phone or, God forbid, trying to text. With distracted driving you slice off one-fifth of your computing power and go on your merry way. It's unfathomable."

Coyne, who has 25 years of automotive marketing expertise, feels the problem will continue to grow with the increase of technology users, young drivers, professional pressure to multi-task, and social expectations to stay in constant touch. "My own teenage triplets can't walk around the house without an iPod or cell phone attached to their ear. To them it seems perfectly acceptable, expected even, to text and drive. They don't realize how dangerous it really is."

The ad within the Feb. 22 issue is titled "Russian Roulette" in which a revolver is placed next to a cell phone splattered with blood. The campaign positions cell phones as potentially lethal weapons if used while driving. The copy and tagline remind drivers that whatever they have to say can wait until they pull over or stop the car.

"I have absolutely nothing against cell phones," says Coyne. "My entire life is on mine. I just don't use it while driving."

"We at AutoWeek could not agree more with Coyne's mantra," says Mandel. "We are doing what we can to keep drivers, especially kids, safe on the road. And if that means including graphic, in-your-face images in the pages of our magazine, we're all in."

While safety agencies in the U.S. focus on vehicles, technology and litigation; other countries are focusing on the actual cause of most crashes; the drivers. AW views the lack of quality teenage driver education as a pandemic and continues to work to bring this issue to the forefront of minds.

AW will continue to advocate better quality driver training and to increase awareness through editorial coverage, Teen Driving Safety Summits, and PSA campaigns like this.

AutoWeek is America's timeliest source of consumer car news, information and insight. AW delivers information as a fortnightly automotive-enthusiast publication, via the Internet, over the radio and video airwaves and through social media. It is owned by Crain Communications Inc. AutoWeek is essential to those pursuing automotive passion and remains a must-read for those who live the automotive lifestyle. AW gives readers, viewers and listeners information more often to satisfy their car fix before the other guys even start their engines.

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