By Safia Hashi
Ottawa Police Services recently asked PR and television broadcasting students to create a collaborative PSA outlining the dangers of distracted driving.
Enitled “One Text One Change,” the announcements are competing online for views in an effort to warn the community of the dangers of texting and driving.
Last week Annemarie Bonkalo, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, ruled distracted drivers would face even harsher penalties with an increased fine of $280 from the previous $155 fine.
The penalty is among the highest in the country, matching Saskatchewan.
The ban against handheld devices was introduced in 2009. Since its implementation, distracted driving—specifically texting while behind the wheel—has increased in Ontario.
The Ottawa Police want students to be aware of this issue.
The province announced the increase in fines the day before the launch of the PSA project.
Then, Const. Pete McKenna and Sgt. Iain Pidcock asked first-year PR students to pitch a storyboard along with a social media plan at the Greenbank police station.
They did so the following week. Now there are 10 videos created by 10 different teams of students.
Each group worked together to create their own version of a PSA, and generated creative feedback with TV broadcasting students as they shot the videos.
Marc Viau and Lauren Vantellingen are PR students on opposing teams.
Their main job is marketing the videos effectively to reach the widest audience possible both inside and outside the college.
“Distracted driving, without taking away from the impact of drinking and driving, has surpassed as the leading cause of accidents” said Viau.
His team is currently in the lead with the most viewed video. It features a man furiously sending out texts in bed, in the shower, and during breakfast only to shut it off once he begins driving. He states, “What am I, an idiot?”
Vantillengen says Facebook and predominantly Twitter have been tools to spread the message.
“It is an issue most people our age aren’t aware of,” she said. “I wasn’t aware of the impacts until I watched the video and read the stats.”
The hope is for the PSA to reach a wide demographic. Some prominent figures have retweeted her team’s video including Country 101.1, CTV Morning Live, RCMP Ontario.
“Any message has an extra dimension of credibility coming from your peers,” said Viau.
The project also gave an opportunity for two programs to come together with very different mindsets. As the TV broadcast student were thinking of the emotional impact, the PR students were thinking of the branding impact.
“It was nice collaborating with another program because they are so creative. We were blown away by how fast they could work,” said Viau.