Doubts about the effectiveness of scare tactics on drivers who text

In a graphic public service announcement from Wales that has been viewed on YouTube more than 4 million times, a teen driver is distracted by texting while driving and her car drifts into oncoming traffic, killing her friends. Though the Welsh video has clearly struck a chord, some safety advocates maintain that blood and gore is not the best way to stop drivers from doing something that is legal in most states, reports the New York Times. The ad is giving new life to a longstanding debate in public health circles, where campaigns have tried threats, emotional pleas, or implied social pressure to urge people–often unsuccessfully–to quit smoking, be vaccinated, stop using drugs, or wear seat belts. "When you look at something like cell phone use or texting, most people already know these behaviors are not safe, but they do them anyway," said Anne T. McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research group financed by auto insurers. "But the challenge in highway safety is that we do unsafe things day after day and don’t end up in a crash, and so I think, over time, people go back to their everyday behaviors."

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