NOVEMBER 22, 2006

       Don't show us the speed

       Cars are flashy and stylish. That’s how the car makers want us to view them. We’re wowed by TV commercials showing us how fast they can go and all the features they have. And then on the news we’re shown statistics for national auto theft and the results of safety tests.
       We’ve all seen the commercials. Maybe we haven’t noticed the disclaimer in tiny little writing at the bottom of the screen.  But it’s there: “Professional driver. Do not attempt." Do those words sound familiar?
       What exactly does that message mean? Why are we being shown that this car can go speeds upwards of 180 km/h if the manufacturers don’t want us attempting those speeds? No where in this country have I ever seen the speed limit that high.  Well, maybe with the exception of a racetrack.
       And with those great speeds and the miniscule warning that we shouldn’t “try this at home”, people are floored (no pun intended) at the stats of how many young people are stealing cars and getting into high speed chases with the police.
       It’s the effective advertising that shows car thieves that these are fast vehicles. We’re at no time, under any circumstance, supposed to drive on the street at those speeds whether or not we are a “professional driver." So why show us how well the car swerves around obstacles and how fast it can do it when we should never be going at such a reckless speed to begin with?
       I don’t think I’ve ever seen a commercial where the camera shows us inside the car and we see the speedometer read “50 km/h." Think about it, have you? That “slow” speed doesn’t set this vehicle apart from the competition. What does is the fastness and agility it offers.
       So I wonder who these commercials are targeting. Is it the middle aged family guy, the young teenager who just got a driver’s licence or the car thief who wants to know what would be the fastest getaway vehicle?
       But we don’t blame the car companies for showcasing their product in an appealing way, regardless of how illegal the speed is of what we’re watching. If there wasn’t so much glamour attached to certain makes of vehicles maybe they won’t be stolen as much as they are.
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