Sunday, 4 April 2010

Belting Up

Throughout the year, but particularly over the Easter holiday period, road accidents are top of the news. Many resultant injuries and fatalities are caused by passengers and drivers not wearing seatbelts and much awareness has been drawn to the importance of wearing a seatbelt by campaigns such as Arrive Alive.

Recently, consumer lodged a complaint to the ASA against an Outsurance Insurance Company (Pty) Ltd television advertisement depicting a family driving in a car in which, he submitted, “one adult and one child are shown not wearing or having discarded their seatbelts while driving”. The complainant found this advertisement to be irresponsible (in contravention of Clause 1.2 of Section I of the Code of Advertising Practice) and depict illegal and unsafe activity (falling foul of Clause 3.3 and 13 of Section II of the Code).

In response, Outsurance pointed out that in the first scene complained of, the child could only be seen from above the shoulder line and it is impossible to conclude that he is not wearing a seatbelt. This scene lasts approximately 2 seconds in the entire 35 second commercial. In the second scene complained of, the adults portrayed are not wearing seatbelts. However, in this scene the car is in a driveway and not on a public road, where it is not illegal not to wear a seatbelt. Furthermore, in the rest of the advertisement, the adults are clearly shown to be wearing seatbelts, so it may be assumed that, having arrived home safely, they removed their seatbelts.
The Directorate considered whether the actions depicted in the advertisement are likely to encourage people to emulate such behaviour. It also considered the advertisement as a whole and not for a fleeting scene where the seatbelts were not visible. It was noted that all other scenes clearly show seatbelts being worn. The Directorate found that neither scene complained of would encourage any hypothetical reasonable person to drive without a seatbelt and would likely be very much aware that seatbelts are of vital importance. Such person would not discard them on the basis of the “fleeting and insignificant scenes” relied upon in the complaint. The complaint was dismissed.

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