COLUMBIA -- AAA Carolinas plans to shock South Carolina motorists with the danger of texting while driving by showing a graphic video from Britain depicting a staged three-car wreck that kills four people.
AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby said Thursday that the video will air on 20 cable channels in central and northwestern South Carolina starting this week.
The 30-second video shows three teen girls in a small car distracted by text messaging. Their car crosses the center line, crashes into an oncoming vehicle and a third car hits them after the first crash. They are thrown about inside the vehicle, with bloodied eyes and faces. It appears that two of the teens are killed, along with the parents of small children in one of the other cars. Police and safety officers rush to aid the remaining girl, who screams in reaction to the carnage.
The message, "You Drive, You Text, You Die," appears at the end.
"It's graphic, but we know that using such images can make a difference," said Crosby, who is president of the AAA Carolina's Foundation for Traffic Safety.
He said it has taken nearly a year for his organization to get permission to use part of the video produced for the police department in Gwent, Wales.
The staged video came to their attention last summer, "when it went viral on YouTube," Crosby said.
The Charlotte-based organization has made the video available as a public service announcement but paid for some air time, Crosby said.
"We are the only people that have permission to use this video, for education and public service, nonprofit purposes," Crosby said. He said the video will air only during the late evening hours.
The campaign also includes billboards and messages posted at North and South Carolina gas stations warning about the dangers of distracted driving, he said.
Crosby said stations in South Carolina were chosen for the campaign because air time was cheaper there but also because it is a state that often ranks high in terms of the number of deadly crashes per mile driven.
"It is a state that definitely needs traffic safety education," he said.
The South Carolina House has passed a bill barring drivers from sending or reading text messages while driving. But similar measures have gotten stuck in the Senate.
Tony Smith, facility manager for the AAA office in Greenville, said several visitors told him they've seen the video on local channels.
"It's really gotten their attention, and that's the point," he said.