Ads try to teach teen drivers a lesson. Are they too much?

Distracted teen drivers can be trouble on the roads.

And through Twitter, an European city is sending a strong message to young drivers: kill your speed, not your mates on the roads.

Transport for London has released a new 40-second commercial with quick snapshots of a fun ride with friends and a gruesome ending. The ad shows five teenagers in a car, listening to music, playing with a phone, filming each other, laughing. A distracted male driver closes his eyes at some point. Then a crash, a cell phone drops on the floor, shatter glass and blood.

It’s not a pretty commercial and the message is good for drivers everywhere.  See it for yourself:

There has been some Twitter backlash against Transport for London, which controls roads and manages public transit in London. Critics say the agency should instead enforce better driving among its bus drivers.

For its part, Transport for London hopes the campaign will draw attention to a big problem.  In 2012, 4,684 people in London who was injured in collisions involving young drivers, according to the agency. The agency says it wants to reduce by 40 percent the number of people killed or seriously injured on the city’s roads.

So the campaign is being run in movie theaters, on the XBox dashboard and in social media.

Crashes involving teen drivers also are a concern in the United States. Government statistics suggest that motor-vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in the U.S. and nearly half of teens killed in crashes are the drivers themselves.  In 2012,  2,823 U.S. teens ages 13 to 19 died in vehicle crashes, accounting for 8 percent of vehicle crash deaths in the country, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

States across the country have launched similar road safety campaigns, focusing on teen drivers.  In the Washington area, the Be Alert, Be Street Smart campaign focuses on pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Now that you have seen it, you be the  judge and say if the ads are appropriate to give teens (and adults) a lesson.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.

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Robert Thomson · June 16, 2014