So they said it isn't a joke, but I can't really take that seriously. Officials with the Department of Public Safety have pulled South Dakota's "Don't Jerk and Drive" campaign for being too hilarious. Or too racy. Something like that.
The campaign was to alert drivers to safe practices on icy roads, referring to the fact that when you jerk the wheel you could potentially lose control of a vehicle. So, the ads were designed to tell people to resist the urge to jerk. The TV ad's narrator, who had a British accent, didn't leave much room for imagination: "Overcorrecting only results in chaos. And besides — nobody likes a jerker." And yes, according to Lee Axdahl, the director of the office of Highway Safety, they fully understood the joke.
The ad quickly fell under scrutiny of South Dakota Republican Rep. Mike Verchio, who chairs the Transportation Committee. But before he could make the call to yank it, Axdahl's boss, Public Safety Director Trevor Jones, pulled it, saying that he thought that the risqué ad would distract the very audience that the campaign was aimed at — young male drivers.
I decided to pull the ad. This is an important safety message and I don't want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road.
But even though the ads have disappeared from TV, the Internet is forever. And thank God it is. The accompanying hashtag #DontJerkAndDrive is still offering some predictably hilarious fodder.
I applaud pulling the campaign. I think it's usually a wise decision to deal with public safety issues without conjuring the idea of masturbation, which seems like pretty standard procedure. So my real question is: who approved this? And also, approximately how many minutes did they giggle before they could speak. Did someone perhaps screw up and misunderstand "hell no" through the giggles?
Images: South Dakota Department of Public Safety