WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Transportation today unveiled “OMG,” a new public service announcement (PSA) to warn teenagers against the dangers of distracted driving. The PSA is available on the newly redesigned Distraction.gov website, along with new materials designed especially for young drivers. The PSA will air nationwide on Regal Cinema theater screens this week and on gas station pump-top screens owned by Outcast’s PumpTop TV throughout the month of December.
“Teen drivers are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving which is why we are making an extra effort to ensure they understand the dangers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Thanks to the help of Regal Cinemas and Outcast’s PumpTop TV, we’re reaching teens directly – whether they’re at the movies or filling up their tanks – to emphasize the importance of keeping their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their focus on driving at all times.”
With the holiday driving season under way and young drivers preparing to take to the roadways during their winter vacations, the new PSA is designed to reach teenagers using imagery that relates to popular shorthand text messages such as “L8R” for “later” or “LOL” for “laugh out loud.”
Two versions of the PSA will air. A version geared towards a teenage audience will run exclusively on 6,589 movie screens in 526 cinemas across the country that are owned and operated by Regal Entertainment Group. A more somber version will air on the 12,000 screens that top pumps at high traffic gas stations across the United States operated by Outcast’s PumpTop TV. Both versions of the PSA are available for viewing on DOT’s redesigned website, www.Distraction.gov.
“Regal Entertainment Group is pleased to support the Department of Transportation’s public service campaign to create awareness of many driver distractions and to encourage safe driving habits,” stated Greg Dunn President and COO of Regal Entertainment Group. “We hope that together we can make a difference by programming the 'Distracted Driving' PSA in our theaters across the country during this busy holiday season.”
“We are proud to work with Secretary LaHood and DOT to help raise awareness for this lifesaving campaign by reaching drivers with a relevant reminder about texting and talking while driving,” said Nathan Gill at Outcast’s PumpTopTV. “We want to ensure that our busy, on-the-go audience has access to important information that can help save lives, and there is no better time to be reminded of this vital message than during those five minutes our viewers are stopped at the pump.”
“Today’s teenagers make no secret about the fact that they want to stay connected to their social networks and enjoy text messaging. That’s why it’s so important that we educate young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and help them make smart decisions that will keep them safe during the holiday season and beyond,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
In 2009, Secretary LaHood launched a national anti-distracted driving campaign to combat the growing trend toward this dangerous behavior, including a dedicated website to provide the public with a comprehensive source of information on the issue. Since then, DOT has also hosted two national summits devoted to reducing distracted driving, crafted sample legislation which states can use to adopt distracted driving laws, and initiated pilot law enforcement programs in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., modeled after the Department’s successful efforts to increase seatbelt use and curb drunk driving.
Currently 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have banned text messaging by all drivers. Nine states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have prohibited all hand-held cell phone use while driving.
To view the new ads click here.
To learn more about DOT’s campaign against distracted driving, visit www.Distraction.gov.