We all know what happens when you a tell a teenager not to do something. They’re going to go straight out and do it! For years, the federal and state governments have been telling American drivers that texting while driving is really, really dangerous.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,000 people died due to distracted driving in 2017. That works out to more than eight deaths every day because someone was too busy calling, texting, or looking at pictures or videos.
But despite the knowledge that using your phone while driving is dangerous, people just keep doing it.
What’s worse still, many young drivers don’t even seem to think that these statistics, and the dangers they represent, apply to them. Almost 30 percent of young adult drivers (aged 21–34) said that texting didn’t impair their driving at all, according to NHTSA.
While many safety agencies in the United States are at their wit’s end with the problem, an organization in Belgium found a brilliant solution to the problem that they’ve shared online.
Called Responsible Young Drivers (RYD), the organization decided that telling new drivers not to use their phones just wasn’t working. So instead, they got some drivers who were taking tests to get their license and gave them an unusual exam at the driving center test course. They videoed the results and shared them on their YouTube channel.
Except rather than making the drivers put their phones away, the instructor demands that they not only get them out but use them!
“You must prove you’re able to use your mobile phone while driving,” he says to a series of shocked teen drivers. While they seem confused, he presents them with authentic-looking “government” documents claiming that this is a new traffic policy.
While one of the drivers let’s out an expletive and promises “plenty of people are going to crash, I tell you,” most of the drivers follow the instructions they are given, sending a series of basic texts while avoiding traffic cones that have been set up on the course.
Some of the texts that the instructor dictates word by word are just plain hilarious, such as “I’m going to get some fries,” whereas others are quite realistic: “we’ll be a bit late tonight.” As he dictates, the drivers are looking down and swerving all over the road, sometimes knocking the cones down.
To make things even funnier, the instructor warns them: “be careful, I’ll correct your spelling.” To one of the students who’s in the middle of driving, he points at the screen, “look how you wrote ‘scool.'”
Meanwhile, the drivers become increasingly flustered and exasperated as the test car flies around the course, often sending the instructor headfirst into the dashboard. “I don’t even know what I’m writing,” one student complained. Another one says: “I feel like I’m an idiot who can’t drive!”
Without missing a beat, the instructor responds: “Exactly!”
Finally, the young drivers, many of whom probably thought that texting and driving were just fine before the test, are complaining to the instructor about how dangerous the test is. “People will die!” one student complains. The instructor, of course, agrees.
By the end of the video, not a single student has been able to “pass the test” of successfully going through a simple obstacle course while sending very basic messages on their phone. The RYD ends the video with a straightforward message: “Texting while driving is dangerous.”
For these student drivers and the 16 million YouTube viewers who watched and shared the video, the message has finally been received!