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Bob Ferguson

You’ve never met a backseat driver quite like the ones portrayed by comedians Rachel Harris, Fred Willard and Rob Riggle as part of a new media campaign aimed at reducing youth reckless driving.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office led a coalition of state attorneys general and consumer protection agencies that joined with the Advertising Council to launch the campaign today. The campaign portrays the celebrities as teenage car passengers who speak up to prevent car crashes – the No. 1 killer of teens in the United States for more than two decades.

“The message we’re aiming to get across is that when your buddy is driving like a bat out of hell, you need to speak up,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said of the new campaign that aims to save lives. “Research shows that teen drivers will listen to their friends.”

Harris PSAIn one TV spot, Harris plays a ditzy teen concerned that her driver is paying more attention to the car stereo than the road. “If we die in a car crash, I want to donate my eyes to my neighbor, Gary,” she says with a sarcastic smile and toss of her blonde ponytail.

Another public service announcement features a not-so-youthful-looking Riggle wearing a letterman’s jacket as he tells an off-the-wall story about horses that ends in a threat to his speeding driver. Willard, stretching the teenage image to the extreme, goes even further with his warning to a teen talking on a cell phone: If he dies, he’ll return as a ghost to haunt the boy.Riddle PSA

Doug Walsh is chief of the Consumer Protection Division at the Washington Attorney General’s Office and helped oversee the development of the nationwide campaign. Walsh and McKenna each have four children and understand the power of teenage peer pressure.

“The TV and radio spots are goofy, edgy and out there because that’s what appeals to teens,” Walsh said. “With the addition of celebrities and a novel application for your iPhone, we have all the ingredients for a life-saving viral marketing campaign.”

The PSAs direct audiences to visit www.SpeakUpOrElse.org, where teens can send instant message videos starring the comedians to their friends. The recipient, expecting a friend to chat, will instead receive a reckless driving video. The site will also include an application that turns an iPhone or iPod Touch into a bullhorn with flashing lights that can be used to inform a friend of his or her reckless driving.

Read our news release for more information.ice cream sign


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