09 May 2006


Volkswagen apparently is trying to make a point about the safety of their newest Jetta in their new ads.

Warning: brace yourself.

I don't know whether this is good advertising, whether it will be effective, whether it is honest or ethical. But man is it memorable.

And for my part, I can say that the point seems fair to me -- that modern cars are ridiculously safe. I admit that it's dangerous to draw conclusions from personal anecdote, but in my ER, I see a *lot* of blunt trauma. There is a strong correlation between age of the car and severity of injury (controlling, of course, for seatbelt usage and alcohol involvement). The medics usually bring in a photo of the accident vehicle, and it astonishes me daily at these utterly wrecked cars and their essentially uninjured occupants.


  1. I'm glad you wrote a bit about the safety of cars these days. When I was at BIRL (Northwestern's research lab), I did some research for an invetigator there at the NU traffic institute and ended up watching a ton of videos from NHTSA (National Highway & Traffic Safety Administration) and their tests were proving conclusively 15 years ago that air bags were *way* better than seatbelts at saving lives in high-speed collisions, and yet it was exceedingly hard to make that case. In fact it was almost made illegal for a car company to publish information about the true relative worth of the two restraining devices because getting people to wear seatbelts was such an emotional (and important) issue.

    BTW, watching the uncensored crash tests are way cool.

  2. I remember the first TV spot from the "car safety" genre I ever saw. I can no longer remember the make or model.

    The entire spot was filmed in slow motion on a featureless track covered in water. The car was skidding in around gracefully in a circle with wonderfully erotic spumes of water spitting up from the leading edge.

    The imagery was so captivating that you didn't stop to say to yourself "Holy shit, that car is skidding! I don't want a car if it's gonna do that!"

    After reading your post, I get it. It's a safety thang.



  3. There is more than one VW commercial out like this. I have seen two and heard there is another. They are certainly memorable and now that I recognize them, I don't watch them to the end. They still startle me. Since I am shopping around for a new car soon, this has made me 1) actually consider VW, 2) insist on side curtain airbags regardless and 3) made me reconsider my initial choices. I am looking for a small car (which is a bit disorienting after driving a minivan for five years) and I am taking the time to really get info on crash statistics.


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