'Pedestrians vs. Cars' PSA highlights crosswalk safety, suffers criticism

Still frame from the 'Pedestrians vs Cars - who will win?' video posted on Twitter by Clackamas County.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A public service announcement aimed at promoting safety in crosswalks has garnered some negative attention on social media.

The video, titled "Pedestrians vs. Cars. Who will win?", attempts to bring satire to the serious topic of pedestrian-vehicle crashes through stereotypical examples of distracted drivers and pedestrians.

The video ends by displaying the statistic that a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle every eight minutes, and the campaign's tagline of "Look first. Walk second. The car always wins."

Many found that the PSA missed its mark, saying it blames the victims and attempts to make light of what should be treated as a serious problem.

State Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-District 48, was instrumental in having the PSA produced. He says he's worked hard to reduce deadly collisions in his district, touting past efforts aimed at drivers.

"We wanted this to focus on pedestrians because I've focused on drivers in the past," said Reardon. "I'm disappointed that people would react negatively. I'm honestly trying to do something that's going to improve driver awareness and pedestrian awareness."

A section on the campaign's website titled “Walk Safe” reads, “Many preventable pedestrian accidents are the consequence of choice and action, based on the (false) perception of safety,” and lists several actions to take to be safe, such as staying off your phone and making eye contact with a driver before crossing.

Clackamas County, which provided funding for the PSA along with PBOT and Clackamas Community College, posted the video on social media Tuesday, and the public was quick to criticize its message of "Pedestrians vs. Cars. Who will win?"

The group Oregon Walks also issued a response to the video, saying in part that the video "doesn’t do anything to tackle the two largest contributors to pedestrian deaths: drunk driving, and speed." (Full statement below)

The video was produced by David Cress of Portlandia fame, the Clackamas Community College video and film department, and Portland-based creative marketing agency 3/Thirds. It was filmed at Portland International Raceway.

Clackamas County officials issued the following response to the video:

"Clackamas County, like the City of Portland, and other parties provided financial support for the PSA, But we did not participate in the production or exercise any creative control over its content. We appreciate and support Representative Reardon’s objective to raise awareness about traffic safety."

Statement from Noel Mickelberry of Oregon Walks:

"It’s an attempt to bring a youthful/comedic take on a really serious issue, and it completely misrepresents why there are so many pedestrians that are hit by cars - and the humor diminishes the extreme tragedy that comes with traffic deaths. Even in the video it shows completely legal behavior by pedestrians, and reckless driving - it shows the walk sign go ‘on’, and the ‘drunk guy’ in a perfectly legal position in the crosswalk when the car comes roaring through. It might get people’s attention, but doesn’t do anything to tackle the two largest contributors to pedestrian deaths: drunk driving, and speed. Pretty disappointing use of funds, when professional videography could go a long way in creating meaningful communication efforts around Vision Zero. We’d appreciate being consulted in the future!"

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