Alberta’s distracted driving anti-text ads feature a glowing crotch

Nadine Kalinauskas
Shine On

"Crotches kill."

In Alberta, a provocative ad campaign aimed at distracted drivers is reminding drivers to stay focused on the road and not on the phones sitting on their laps.

The first two ads, part of a $380,000 campaign that will include radio, billboards, posters and digital ads, feature drivers staring at their laps, which appear to be glowing.

"Sending even the shortest text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds — enough to do a lifetime of damage," the ad states.

The cheeky subtext of a radioactive crotch as a consequence of texting from your lap isn't hard to miss either.

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"It’s pretty racy for a Government of Alberta ad, but sex does sell and it did get people’s attention," Edmonton radio personality Rick Lee tells CTV News. "It’s good to see the Government of Alberta is taking the step to connect with younger listeners, and listeners in general, and taking the racy approach is a good way to do it I think."

"Our goal is to get their attention, and to ultimately save lives, and the way to do that was to come up with a campaign that spoke to them and generated conversation," Donna Babchishin of Alberta Transportation tells CBC News.

The first wave of ads, targeting at a younger demographic, is designed to convict drivers of staring "down there" instead of keeping their eyes on the road. The second wave will ask drivers to consider how long texts take to send and the dangers of taking that time away from driving alertly.

"Ah, there you go again, driving and being completely enthralled by your crotch," scolds a female announcer in a Crotches Kill radio spot. "Quick glances, long stares, you just can't keep your eyes off it. But the problem is crotches kill. Every time you send that text message from your lap, your eyes are off the road for five very long seconds."

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In keeping with the provocative theme, one ad will involve a talking urinal puck.

"Distracted by your crotch again, huh?" asks the urinal puck. "Well, it's fine to do it here, but it can kill behind the wheel. Keep your eyes up. Don't text and drive. We know what you're doing down there."

"Some people will be offended a little bit, at least by the tagline, but at the same time I think it could help save lives," says marketing expert Surjit Rai of the "Crotches Kill" tagline.

In the first year since Alberta's distracted driving legislation came into effect, there were about 19,000 convictions, 95 per cent of which involved hand-held devices.

While feedback on the campaign has been primarily positive, some aren't convinced that "Crotches Kill" will inspire real change in driving habits.

"It's good but it's not great," Tom Keenan, a professor in the faculty of environmental design at the University of Calgary, tells the Calgary Herald. "Distracted driving isn't just about where your eyes are, it's where your brain is at."

Do you text from your lap?