Now that summer is over and the weather is cooler, I am watching a lot more New Zealand TV. We only have 3 channels, so it isn’t as if there is much to watch, but I turn it on anyway, as a sort of companion while I do other things.
Unfortunately, a little relaxing TV time has started given me nightmares. I dream there is a crazy circus guy spinning a wheel of death. I’m driving an SUV on top of this spinning obstacle course with tunnels of fire, my friends pressed against glass windows, my parents sweetly beckoning me at the end of a cliff, and I have to try to drive without crashing or going down the wrong pathway. My SUV tips over and is spun to the edge of the wheel. I see a rainbow of colors through my window, which is pressed against the floor, my husband next to me has blood dripping from his mouth. I wake up drenched in sweat! It took me a moment to realize where this horrible dream was coming from, then I remembered the commercials.
From what I’ve heard on the news, New Zealand has a very high death rate due to auto accidents. Just since I’ve been here they legal driving age has risen and the legal blood alcohol limit for minors was lowered to 0. I have personally witnessed two serious accidents in my 3 short months on this island and I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more. Driving here is difficult – the roads are narrow, curvy and often followed by steep cliffs and obstructed views. Most of the roads are only 2 lanes, so if you get behind a slow driver you have to chose between a turtles pace or a perilous attempt at passing.
(Luckily for me, my cries of terror and the thought of wastng expensive gas keeps my husband traveling at safe speeds.)
I understand the need for a public service campaign to discourage speeding and drunk driving, but I wish they could leave out the graphic parts. The PSA to encourage people to install fire alarms are especially difficult for me, as my own grandmother lost her life in a fire. It is a tragedy that I would rather not relive every time I turn on the TV. And – while I do understand the need for the smoke detector, I do not think the graphic commercials are necessary. My grandmother was on her way out, they had alarms, but it just wasn’t enough.
I wonder if these heart-wrenching commercials are effective? I’m not the only one questioning these commercials, CNN recently featured a story on graphic PSA’s and one expert believe humor is a better approach.
I do have an idea, actually it isn’t my idea, it is something I’ve witnessed and has stuck with me for years. I grew up on a military base, and whenever a soldier got into an accident from drunk driving or speeding they would put the crashed car on display with a sign noting the offense. I believe the offenders name was also posted, as a form of public humiliation, but what stuck with me was a destroyed black sports car. When my brother and I first saw it from behind we were impressed by the sleek car, but as we approached the front we saw the engine pushed into the front seats. Our mother explained to us that it was due to a person driving after drinking too much. She said the guy lived, but was in the hospital. I don’t know if she really knew the details or if she just made them up, but it is what I think of every time someone wants to drive after drinking. I didn’t need to see any actual blood. I didn’t need the shock of seeing someone die of TV. Just an actual car – a demolished car.
It is just as shocking, but a little less likely to cause nightmares.