South Dakota pulls controversial driving campaign
PIERRE (AP) -- State officials in South Dakota have decided that a public safety campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of jerking the steering wheel on icy roads is too risque.
PIERRE (AP) - State officials in South Dakota have decided that a public safety campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of jerking the steering wheel on icy roads is too risque.
The Department of Public Safety has pulled the "Don't Jerk and Drive" ads, which played on the double-meaning of the word "jerk." Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl told the Argus Leader earlier this week that the double meaning was intentional, to grab people's attention.
"The message is that we'd prefer drivers keep their cars out of the ditch and their minds out of the gutter," he told the newspaper.
Public Safety Director Trevor Jones - Axdahl's boss - said in a statement Wednesday that he was pulling the ads.
"This is an important safety message and I don't want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road," he said.
The television ad featured an animated graphic of a driver spinning into other vehicles after jerking the wheel. The proper way to handle the situation of drifting off the road is to slowly pull back onto the road, a narrator explains.
"Overcorrecting only results in chaos. And besides - nobody likes a jerker," the narrator says.
The part of the campaign that garnered the most attention is the #DontJerkAndDrive hashtag in Twitter that was seen by more than 16,000 Twitter users in its first week. Page views at the Department of Public Safety's Facebook page jumped to almost 30,000 after the campaign launched, outperforming previous public safety campaigns 25 to 1.
Before Jones' decision to stop the campaign, state Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, was planning to call Axdahl before the Transportation Committee to explain the $100,000 campaign.
"I think the intent clearly was ... when you start to go off the road, you should take your foot off the gas and gently go back on," Verchio said. "But it wasn't defended very well that way. When they say 'Yeah, there's some double-meaning there,' I think that was a terrible error in judgment."