Can These Highly Trained Dogs Get You Off Your Phone While Driving? Geico Hopes So

If only there were another way to avoid distraction

Geico carefully trains dogs to slap away smartphones, ideally in a car environment. Geico
Headshot of David Griner

Citing the stat that one out of every three crashes is caused by distracted driving, Geico’s newest ad aims to find a solution that will finally get motorists off their smartphones. The answer? Smartdogs.

How smart are these Smartdogs? They’ve been meticulously trained to slap or snatch away your smartphones while you’re behind the wheel—though they seem happy to perform this task regardless of where you are. Here’s a look at how the Smartdogs  are being trained for this critical mission:

The new ad, from longtime Geico creative agency The Martin Agency, is timed to correspond with April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The “one in three crashes” statistic cited at the beginning of the ad is just one of many findings about the dangers of distracted driving—especially with regard to phones and other devices—released in 2016 and based on data from thousands of drivers.

“The results show that crash causation has shifted dramatically in recent years, with driver-related factors (i.e., error, impairment, fatigue, and distraction) present in almost 90% of crashes,” says the report in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PNAS. “The results also definitively show that distraction is detrimental to driver safety, with handheld electronic devices having high use rates and risk.”

Here’s the study’s specific section where Geico likely got its stat:

“Calculating a population-attributable risk for distraction overall shows that potentially 36%, or 4 million of the nearly 11 million crashes occurring in the United States annually, could be avoided if no distraction was present.”

But the report has several other fascinating findings as well:

• “Driving while observably angry, sad, crying, and/or emotionally agitated increases the risk of a crash by 9.8 times compared with model driving.”
• “Driver judgment errors (e.g., speeding well above the speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions) and other aggressive driving behaviors increase crash risk 11.1 times more than model driving.”
• “Interacting with in-vehicle devices that do not include the more standard radio or HVAC tasks, such as using a touchscreen interface, had a high odds ratio (i.e., 4.6 times higher than model driving).”

It’s not all bad news, though! Here’s an interesting set of counterintuitive tidbits:

“Several factors previously thought to constitute significant driver risk factors, such as particular distractions (e.g., applying makeup) or errors (e.g., following too closely), were found to be much lower in prevalence in this analysis. Other factors posed much lower risks than previously thought, or even had a protective effect (e.g., interacting with children in the rear seat).”

Again, since you’re unlikely to get a smartdog any time soon, you should really read the full report.


Client Credits:
Joe Pusateri: Vice President, Marketing
Amy Furman: Assistant Vice President, Marketing
Gary Aurand: Brand Team Manager
Tom Perlozzo: Brand Team Senior Supervisor
Brighid Griffin: Brand Team Planner
Olivia Ashby: Brand Team Planner
Tim Ware: Brand Team Planner
Catherine Hefferan: Brand Team Buyer

Agency Credits:
The Martin Agency
Chief Creative Officer: Karen Costello
Executive Creative Director: Jerry Hoak
SVP, Group Creative Director: Steve Bassett
VP, Creative Director: Neel Williams
VP, Creative Director: Justin Harris
Senior Copywriter: Dave Ashton
Art Director: Rushil Nadkarni
Planning Director: Lauren Prociv
SVP, Executive Producer: Kerry Ayers
Senior Content Producer: Brian Fox
Senior Content Producer: Heather Collier
Business Affairs Supervisor: Suzanne Wieringo
Senior Financial Affairs Manager: Amy Trenz
SVP, Group Account Director: Matt Mattox
Account Supervisor: Jon Glomb
Account Executive: Allie Waller
Account Coordinator: Abbey Reddington
Account Coordinator: Yoon Ko
Project Manager: Stephanie Ashworth
Financial Account Supervisor: Monica Cox
Head of Integrated Production: Tasha Dean

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Terri Timely
Director of Photography: Donavan Sell
Exec. Producer: Jackie Kelman Bisbee
Exec. Producer: Dinah Rodriguez
Head of Production: Anne Bobroff
Line Producer: David Lambert

Editorial Company: Cut + Run
Editor: Frank Effron
Assistant Editor: Kelly Henson
Executive Producer: Amburr Farls
Producer: Brian Mulvey

Color & Finishing
VFX & Finishing: ARTJAIL
Head of Production: John Skeffington
Producer: Perry Tate
Colorist: Clinton Homuth

Audio Post Facility: Heard City
Executive Producer: Jackie James
Sound Designer and Mixer: Mike Vitacco

Music: Butter Music & Sound
Executive Producer: Ian Jeffreys
Producer: Kristin Kuraishi

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."