Graham Hurdle's blog: 7 May 2013 - Is TV promoting bad driving or is it just entertainment?
07 May 2013
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
I read an article about the BBC reality TV show, Barely Legal Drivers which has caused a bit of a stir.
One episode used dashboard cameras to film youngsters screaming swear words at other drivers and talking on mobile phones while behind the wheel.
Yet after more than 300 viewers complained about the behaviour of the teenagers, the police are looking into whether any of the participants should be prosecuted for their sloppy driving.
Many of the complainants also expressed outrage that some contestants are apparently rewarded by being given a free car by the BBC.
What we don't know is whether this is how these youngsters really drive or whether they were just showing off for the camera, but it's not the only example of where bad driving is used to create sensational TV.
While programmes of car chases of criminals say that they are showing us police footage to discourage terrible driving, the truth is people watch because it's entertaining and sensationalist.
There have also been programmes focusing on the world's worst drivers that are, effectively, created to be funny.
So what message does this give to the young audiences watching? That it's funny, clever and entertaining to drive badly? That you're 'pretty cool' if you behave badly behind the wheel? That poor driving is rewarded by 15 minutes of fame on TV?
The problem we have is that if a television programme was made about safe driving, I suspect viewing figures would be quite low.
Television and YouTube has created a culture where people want to see something exceptional. A car being safely driven at 30mph won't get the same number of viewers as one that conducts a dangerous manoeuvre.
Yet the corporate sector should beware that the young drivers coming into their business may need far more education than meets the eye.
They may have passed their test and they may be capable of driving, but what is their attitude towards safety?
I'm not going to even attempt to campaign against these types of TV programmes being made because I'd be wasting my time.
But if you are a company director, I'd urge you to be mindful that the new generation of employees joining your company may have a very different attitude towards driving than you do.
My suggestion is to put every single one of them through a course of training to make sure their attitude is right before letting them loose in a company vehicle.
If they can relate to TV footage, there are some hard-hitting films out there showing the real horrors of dangerous driving as well as the devastation it can cause to people's lives.
Whenever I've been in a room when these films are shown you can hear a pin drop afterwards as people sit and reflect on what they've just seen.
And the word 'entertainment' is never used to describe them - but they certainly make an impact.