While celebrating progress against human rights abuses around the world in its series “Ten for a Better World,” CNN promoted a public service announcement on how bad drivers are endangering more lives.
The video, titled “Driving with Responsibility,” aired during the network’s May 4 “10 for a Better World Special,” which will feature testimonials of men and women who have made the world a better place in other ways.
But “Driving with Responsibility” seems to be criticized by some for promotional purposes.
It begins with a speaker thanking viewers for their support since the beginning of the project. Then we are treated to a car crash, emergency services, cops, children being held hostage, dismembered body parts and burns.
“Help stop dangerous driving,” says a news anchor. The piece then focuses on road deaths. “The roads you drive on are responsible for 45,000 deaths every year,” the speaker tells viewers.
“If we as a group do not make changes in how we travel around, the result will be deaths on the roads,” the speaker warns. “Don’t be a careless driver. Drive with responsibility.”
And then comes the stop the promotion says — the PSA that is.
Have you ever been in a car crash or had someone who was killed in a car crash present a similar PSA for you? The public service announcement that drove millions of readers to the CNN site in 2009 has never been repeated.
The link to see the PSA is no longer available.
“I honestly think they were just as angry as the viewers,” said Max Franklin, founder of TheTruthCompany, which teaches students to write satire and news stories on the Web. “The car crash was a perfect body part to portray what the victims’ family and friends must have felt when being smeared by the television network which featured the dead body parts.”
Franklin said the title is a mischaracterization of the presentation because the speaker isn’t preaching to the public about his car driving. “In this case, the speaker is not just telling a young person not to get into a dangerous situation,” Franklin said. “He is speaking to them about being responsible for the future of how the world is running in the most terrible, poetic way possible.
“It’s a classic hate fest, nothing but hate.”
Franklin said the word “dangers” makes it look as if the speaker is trying to say that there is a danger to motorists.
But he said when a resident “hears the words: Drive with Responsibility,” the message is that if we don’t fix our broken roads we all will pay a high price.
Sandra Crain-Rondinone, owner of the website Hospital and Surgery News and the Hospital News Service, said the PSA served the goal of informing viewers.
“The article outlines the dangers, including hazardous driving and lack of attention,” Crain-Rondinone said. “The correct usage of ‘driving with responsibility’ may be conflicting, depending on what the person is saying. But this is more of a pep talk and may be less appealing to the novice or young driver as it speaks to paying attention, not distracted driving.”
Among the other people participating in the PSA are: Dr. Anthony Zaragoza (Temecula, Calif.), who has made an emergency kit to teach children to dress in safety clothing; and Sherilyn White, a single mother of two whose 24-year-old son recently died in a car crash.
Tom Perlato (Brewster, N.Y.), founder of Northeast Medical schools, including Mt. Sinai Medical School, is the recipient of the first prize in “Ten for a Better World.”
To help people honor the lives of those who have died or been affected by a road crash, the site has developed the “10 Memorial Toll booth.”
The site has collected money in hopes of providing $10,000 for safe drivers.
“Every survivor will always be thankful,” Perlato wrote. “I hope that 10 Memorial Toll booths will be one-of-a-kind in all of North America, and a permanent reminder to road users of the value of taking personal responsibility.”
The “Ten for a Better World” initiative, an addition to CNN’s “CNN Heroes” series, debuted in 2015.