New road safety campaign uses Google Maps to illustrate meters missed when texting while driving

Ads, Advertising, CSR

One misses a lot when texting and driving and a new road safety campaign now shows exactly how much: turns Google Maps into a text editor and allows you to type on any road. A specially designed font connects with speed limitations of the road you are typing on and stretches to the exact amount of meters you are driving blind.

The results are eye opening: One character at 90km/h makes you miss 19,75 meters. That makes 26,33 meters at 120km/h. Needless to say, your text messages are longer than you think: ‘Almost home’ is 10 characters, but 289 meters as well. ‘On my way’, 7 characters, but 236 meters. And these are just the shorter kind of messages people keep texting behind the wheel. Longer messages are quickly reaching 1 kilometre. Stunning, keeping in mind that 1 fraction of a second of inattentiveness can have serious consequences.

Texting and driving is dangerous. We’ve all heard it before in numerous road safety PSA campaigns. We still do it, though. Because ‘it’s just a quick text message’, just a ‘little post on Facebook or Snapchat, or Whatsapp, or whatever… ‘. But, honestly, does it even exist, ‘a quick text message?’ Because when you send text messages behind the wheel, you are driving blind.

In order to change that behavior we wanted to literally let people experience how many meters they are actually driving blind. Because even though most people know, nobody really realizes how many meters they are really missing.

Geoffrey Hantson,

CCO of Happiness Brussels, an FCB Alliance

This campaign connects different databases, layered on one website.

Thomas Coliers, head of technology added:

The website combines data from different map sources which allows us to render text along roads on top of satellite imagery. One source is used as the primary visual layer for the map, another source allows us to use the geometry data of the roads, together with speed limits and other important data to be able to “write” on these roads.The font in the website is custom made for the purpose of being able to dynamically stretch.

The campaign was created by the duo of Happiness Brussels and OVK/PEVR (Parents of Road Victims), who took home Bronze at this summer’s Cannes Lions for their “Behind the Numbers” radio spot. The platform is supported by a fully integrated media campaign, with a television and cinema commercial, and social films of people walking the distance of their last text message. The campaign initiated in Belgium and will spread amongst different European countries.