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''Watch Out at Intersections'': SAAQ TV ad targets motorcycle riders


by Marc Cantin ,

The Quebec auto licensing board (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, aka SAAQ) has just launched a television ad campaign dubbed "Motorcyclists, Watch Out at Intersections." According to the SAAQ, the ad targets both motorcyclists and motorists. It will be broadcast on the main French-language channels from April 5 to May 2, 2010, and you can view it on the SAAQ's site at

The images evoke the morbid side of a motorist's as well as a motorcyclist's mistakes, to the point that it would turn off new riders as well as cause some to abandon the sport altogether.

Fear-based campaigns don't work, as we've seen with the pictures adorning our cigarette packs as well as identical approaches in Western Europe and Australia, and now abandonned.

While I'd like to give the SAAQ the benefit of the doubt, they've just made too many blatant "mistakes" for me to remain silent, such as:

. The announcer advises motorcyclists to respect the speed limits, when speed plays absolutely no part in the accident in question.

. On a motorcycle, the rider is always responsible for an accident. This survival mentality and defensive driving attitude is crucial and must dictate all the rider's actions.

In this case, the ad mentions absolutely nothing about the motorcyclist's responsibility in the incident. He's riding down a dark part of the street, does not show any reflectors on his helmet or clothing, is on low beam, and does nothing to make himself stand out, such as flashing the headlight, swerving or even slowing down.

. And if the SAAQ wanted to show the real danger and how both parties can lose, why not show the motorcycle colliding with his passenger?

Imagine the reaction of a parent, friend or loved one when seeing this clip, when someone close rides a motorcycle.

In the end, both parties win when an accident is avoided - so why not mention it and make it clear and realistic?

This is the most common type of accident of all, and the SAAQ is broadcasting a poorly thought-out ad, using an approach that has already failed elsewhere, and taking the opportunity to send out more anti-motorcycle subliminal messages and justify the lucrative speeding-ticket industry. Not their finest moment!