VW commissions kids to help make parents safer drivers

Often ads that aim to get drivers reducing their speed involve families and children and those who would be affected most if the driver in question was to lose their life. Generally, this involves a tragic scene with a ‘speed kills’ tagline. But, in its new ‘Reduce Speed Dial‘ experiment created by Colenso BBDO and Finch, Volkswagen has taken a different approach by having kids design their parents’ speedometers.  

For the experiment, four families were supplied with Volkswagen Golfs, which were fitted out with personalised speedometers hand-crafted by the kids. And this simple customisation served to remind parents what they have to live for at the exact moment they considered speeding. 

Colenso tracked the Kiwi families’ driving habits, and found this approach to render some promising results:

  • One family had no recorded speed infringements after the installation of the personalised speed dial.
  • One family reduced their top speed by 19kmh from a maz of 123km to a max of 104km.
  • Half of the drivers’ maximum speeds reduced after fitting their personalised speed dial.
  • Three out of the four drivers reduced their incidence of speeding in 100km zones by 50 percent.

A short film was also released of the ‘Reduce Speed Dial’ experiment, documenting the four families’ experience.

“As with most problems we often overlook the most simple answer,” says Colesno’s creative chair Nick Worthington. “We hope that the results from this early trial help to direct more focus on the cause of the vast majority of crashes – the driver. This has been an emotional process for everyone involved and we believe that having a simple reminder from a loved one in front of us at the exact moment when you are thinking about speeding is a brilliant way to make people think about everything and everyone they have to live for.”

Volkswagen New Zealand general manager Tom Ruddenklau​ says while the company’s cars become safer every year due to investment in research and development, driver behaviour remains the single biggest cause of road crashes and is also the most significant factor in determining whether a crash will be fatal. 

“Safety ratings don’t change driver behaviour – and there’s an opportunity for our brand to do our bit in trialling some things that may. It was a great opportunity to work with four Kiwi families to investigate a simple idea that may one day help us all,” says Ruddenklau​. 

And while speeding does remain a problem, data released by the Ministry of Transport last year showed drivers in urban cities or on the open road are driving slower (increased traffic certainly also plays a role in this reduction of speed).

Over the course of the last two decades, the average speed travelled by New Zealand motorists has decreased year on year. And while the mean speed has dropped more gradually from 123 km/h in 1996 to 95.7 km/h, the speeds among the 85 percentile—the 15 percent of vehicles recorded travelling faster than the mean speed—dropped markedly from 115 km/h to 102 km/h.

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