Time Freezes, and Doomed Drivers Talk, in Amazing and Heartbreaking Road-Safety PSA

Is an accident inevitable?

This eerie safe-driving PSA from New Zealand employs an Outer Limits-style time freeze to impressive, heartbreaking effect as we watch two drivers, poised to collide in a matter of seconds, emerge from their vehicles and discuss the situation.

One driver, with his small son in the back of his SUV, has misread the other's excessive speed while pulling into an intersection. Both concede it was "a simple mistake." But as the oncoming car creeps ominously ahead, shattering the otherwise frozen backdrop, they realize with mounting horror that there may be nothing they can do to avoid the inevitable. They walk back to their cars, and we share their sense of anguish and helplessness.

"This campaign aims to reframe the way people look at their speed when they're driving," the New Zealand Transport Agency says. "We usually get to learn from our mistakes, but not when driving—the road is an exception. Even the smallest of mistakes on the road can cost us our life, or someone else's."

The spot, by Clemenger BBDO, marks a departure from the agency's recent work for the client, which successfully used humor and charm to highlight the dangers of driving while stoned. Here, the tone is intensely serious, and the riveting results are memorable and stand up to repeat viewings. Amid the terrifying prospect of a side-impact crash, this ad's power hits you head on.

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.