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Johnson Promotes Safe Driving

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Rick Johnson & Co.'s mission is to curtail risky driving in its latest work for the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department's Traffic Safety Bureau.

Three 30-second television spots feature a driver's education teacher who instructs his pupils to tailgate, apply makeup while tuning the radio, and act in other potentially dangerous ways. "We don't use the turn signal—it's nobody's business where you're going," he says.

All the spots—two in English and one in Spanish—close with a voiceover that says, "You didn't learn to drive this way, so why do you drive this way?" and "If you don't stop driving dangerously, we'll stop you." Onscreen text then states, "New Mexico Law Enforcement."

Agency writer and associate creative director Sam Maclay said his team thought humor would be an effective means of communications, since lecturing often leads viewers to block out serious messages.

"It's about getting people to take pause," said Maclay. "We're trying to get people to see that cars aren't cocoons and [all drivers']behavior affects others [on the road]."

Last year risky-driving behavior, defined as any action that distracts one from the road, killed 350 people and injured more than 20,000 in New Mexico.

The commercials from the Albuquerque, N.M., agency broke last month and are running on network affiliates throughout the state. Radio complements the effort.