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Why is that Driver Speeding? TV Ads.
We need lower speed limits because car companies glorify speeding.
Car companies spent more that $35 billion in advertising, coming down hard on ‘speed, power, and reckless driving’, Danny Harris reports:
Researchers have found that around half of U.S. car ads feature dangerous driving behavior. On the Dodge website and social media channels, examples of this are readily apparent. Messaging invites drivers to “conquer the streets of America” with an “aggressive” and “intimidating” fleet. Purchase a Dodge and enter the “brotherhood of muscle.” The company sells cars named “Charger,” “Demon” and “Ram.”
But it’s not just Dodge. Consumers can choose, among others, to acquire a “Ford Tough” truck, to purchase a BMW with “design that dominates” or to buy a Nissan because “you deserve a car that thrills you.”
While speed and reckless driving sells, it also kills. In 2019, speed was a contributing factor in at least a quarter of traffic fatalities, and there are likely countless more fatalities where lower speed limits could have made the difference. U.S. traffic fatalities rose a staggering 8% last year, which experts attribute almost entirely to a massive uptick in speeding on pandemic-emptied roads. In addition to the immeasurable human toll, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that speed-related crashes cost our nation $40.4 billion each year.
As more Americans die in crashes, the government should regulate automobile marketing and end the glorification of speeding and reckless driving as part of a broader federal commitment to reach zero traffic deaths. Americans live on 30 mph streets, not on the set of Fast and Furious.
Harris goes on to suggest we should police this advertising just like we do for various products, like banning tobacco TV and radio advertising in 1971.
Consumers are similarly susceptible to advertisements that celebrate dangerous driving. A 2010 study found that after viewing car ads that promoted high-speed driving and rapid acceleration, people were more likely to think those driving behaviors were a good idea.
Which is fairly obvious if you spend any time walking the streets.