Dear Pennsylvania: You’re doing it wrong

I was busy learning all about Amy Gutmann in Philadelphia Magazine – did you know she can stand on her head, and prefers sushi to treif? – when I noticed this curious ad on the side of the page:

Apparently, Pennsylvania’s responsible driving campaign is ‘Just Drive PA’. In case you don’t automatically recognize that as absurd, I’ll illustrate by applying that advice to some potential real-world scenarios:

Need to get three blocks down the street? Just drive.

Don’t actually have a license? Just drive.

Car’s got a flat? Just drive.

Slightly inebriated? Just drive.

Totally wasted? Just drive.

Working on your golf game? Just drive.

As a catch-all, general-purpose slogan, ‘Just Drive PA’ is about as opposite as you can get from ‘Making Sense’; I bring it to your attention simply because I don’t understand how anyone ever thought this was a good idea.

Don’t be misled by the ad: the campaign is just ‘Just Drive PA’ – the words “safe and sober” only happen to show up on this particular ad. And in case you’re still worried I’m somehow misrepresenting just what the campaign seeks to promote – or what it’s called – the following explanation comes straight from its official website:

Through Just Drive PA, PennDOT aims to make sure that all motorists in Pennsylvania are safe drivers.

With more than 1,200 people losing their lives in traffic crashes in Pennsylvania each year, Just Drive PA encourages motorists to avoid life-threatening behaviors such as not wearing a seat belt, driving impaired and driving aggressively.

Each of you can make a difference for highway safety by simply remembering to “Just Drive PA.”

To drive home my point, note that the excerpt gives the following very specific advice: don’t drive without a seatbelt, don’t drive impaired, and don’t drive aggressively. In other words, exercise judgment, then drive. This advice is basically like ‘Just Drive’ in the sense that it’s exactly the opposite.

If only the good people at the Pennsylvania DOT were as creative as their counterparts down in New Zealand, who gave us this:

and this:

Legen… wait for it… wooly.


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