Statistics show that nearly 5,000 deaths per year can be attributed to crossing the road at the wrong time. And that’s just in the city of Paris, where the repercussions for “crossing on a red man” have become a serious issue. Hence, the French government and road safety authority DRIEA (Direction Régionale et Interdépartementale de l’Equipement et l’Aménagement) have enlisted Serviceplan France to create The Virtual Crash Billboard—a digital panel equipped with cameras, speakers and motion detection aimed at reducing fatal accidents through the clever and literally frightening employment of audio.
As you can see in the video below, the sound that’s being used here isn’t just any old alarm or robotic alert. When someone crosses on red, they are shaken by the loud screech of an automobile suddenly braking to avoid a crash, and that’s when the The Virtual Crash Billboard captures what is almost guaranteed to be an unflattering photograph of the pedestrian tensing up for impact.
That photo is then blown up and exhibited on the digital panel with a message that translates to “Don’t look death in the face. Check the lights and cross safely.” Leave it to the French to implement such a no-nonsense reminder about shared social responsibility and the rules of the road.
Would you still cross illegally if these panels were installed in your neighborhood? Is the possibility of having your grimacing face displayed in public as a shaming technique deterrent enough? And, in the process of saving lives, creating millions of impressions and monopolizing social media, do you think this campaign’s jolting noise of squealing tires on pavement will cause any heart attacks? Only time will tell as the effort becomes about omnichannel awareness, but nonetheless, the French government and DRIEA get points for chutzpah here.