British PSA Urging Cyclists to Avoid Turning Trucks Draws Fire From Riders

Drivers must be more careful, critics say

A road safety ad by AMV BBDO is sparking cries of victim-blaming in the U.K. for warning cyclists to hang back from trucks that are making left turns—the driver's blind side on that country's roads.

The montage PSA shows a string of paired objects between which viewers would not want to be caught, like a piano falling from the sky and the sidewalk, two boxers about to collide, yaks squaring off, a birthday girl's whacking stick and her piñata, and a butcher's cleaver and a slab of meat.

That lighthearted imagery takes on a more sinister tone once a man on a bicycle appears, and jockeys for position with a dump truck, which evidently crushes him against the road and kills him in the end.

British cycling advocates are accusing the spot, created for the U.K. Department for Transportation, of placing responsibility with the wrong party by not urging drivers of trucks—or lorries, in the local vernacular—to be more careful when turning left.

Many of the criticisms seem to center on the claim that the truck in the video overtakes the cyclist to make the turn—an interpretation that's not immediately clear, or indisputable, as the cyclist seems to pass the truck while they approach the turn, then fall behind.

Regardless, the outrage is perhaps understandable, given recent high-profile instances of left-turning trucks killing cyclists in Britain, and the fact that a full one-third of cycling accidents in the country involve such scenarios.

The government response to the backlash, for its part, seems awfully reasonable.

"Any death on the road is a tragedy, and all road users have a responsibility to make our roads safer by being more vigilant," said a spokesperson, reports the London Evening Standard. "We want to protect vulnerable road users by raising awareness of specific dangers, and research shows that a large number of road incidents involving cyclists are with lorries at junctions. The "Think!" road safety campaign is aimed at cyclists, motorists and [heavy-goods vehicle] drivers, and they all have a role to play in improving safety."

In other words, the agency is pretty sure it's not insane to suggest that cyclists be extra cautious around trucks near turns—if for no other reason than the cyclists are the ones with the most to lose.


Agency: AMV BBDO

Creative Directors: Steve Jones / Martin Loraine

Creatives: Nick Hurley / Nadja Lossgott

Agency Producer: Greg Kates

Production Company: Bold Company

Director: Tom Haines

Producer: Dave Knox

Director of Photography: David Procter

First Assistant Director: James Amos Production

Designer: Marco Puig

Costume Designer: Natalie Willis

Camera Equipment: MovieTech Lighting Equipment

Panalux Editors: Dan Sherwen / Paul Moth

Edit House: Final Cut

Postproduction: The Mill

Producer: George Reid

Colorist: James Banford

Special Effects Supervisor: Ben Turner

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@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: October 5, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT