Last week, on a rainy night in Jacksonville, the Florida Highway Patrol hired Don Flynn Pictures to create a fatal three-car crash--on purpose--just to prove a point! Of course, nobody really died. It's only a video, after all. But the filming looked real and the message is a serious one--distracted driving kills! As part of a year long Distracted Driving Campaign, FHP, using grant funds from the Florida Department of Transportation, contracted with the Jacksonville-based production company to produce a 10-minute video and 30-second public service announcement on the dangers of distracted driving, especially for teen drivers.
First, an intersection was created at Lake Fretwell and Authority Avenue at the Cecil Field Commerce Center, where the final gruesome scenes were filmed. The scene was complete with a traffic light brought in and suspended from a bucket truck, drivers and cable operators at the ready for the actual vehicle crashes, young actors on hand from a local drama school, professional make-up artists on-site to create the gore, and a top-notch camera and production crew to film it all. The most exciting part of all was when the post-crash response team arrived and descended upon the scene to do what they do--try to save lives, assess the damage, and find out what happened. The team, which included Lt. Bill Leeper who provided law enforcement consultation and handled the Media, FHP troopers and Auxiliary from the local troop, the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue, EMS, and the Jacksonville Fire Department--worked quickly and professionally to simulate an actual crash scene, doing their job so well that two of the young actors got so caught up in the action they gave their real names to the troopers. Afterward, the two boys said they felt like it was so real--it was scary!
The video features three different families who meet by accident in a car crash that changes the lives of every person involved. "We planned to have multiple fatalities, compound bone fractures, multiple serious injuries and an arrest for vehicular manslaughter," said Don Flynn, the video director. "It will be graphic," he added. The video is intentionally graphic and strives to capture the reality of traffic crashes. They are messy; they are bloody; and they are often deadly.
Driving while distracted is a dangerous habit. It puts the driver, the passengers, and fellow motorists at great risk. Distracted driving has become a serious problem on our roadways and is not to be taken lightly. Every year, thousands of crashes occur because drivers are not watching the road or are too busy doing other things behind the wheel--talking on cell phones, eating & drinking, checking on children in the back seat, etc. The truth is the roads in Florida are crowded, and drivers must pay attention and take extra care. The message here--pay attention behind the wheel!
Some of the cast & crew with troopers and staff from GHQ.
Kim Hackler, FHP's Grants & Projects Director, who developed the initial concept for the video said, "I want the crash scene to look real," so the producer used many film making techniques to achieve the realism on each scene without causing true injuries or compromising the safety of the cast or crew. The video will be very visual and real, and the end result will, hopefully, have a lasting impact on anyone who sees it. The film is due out in October. The Florida Highway Patrol will distribute copies of the video (DVD & VHS formats) to Florida middle and high schools, driver education programs and schools, and other interested groups, as well as make it available to Florida citizens upon written request and on our website.