Oregon Representative Jeff Reardon says he is pulling down the “Look First, Walk Second” traffic safety campaign he commissioned and launched last week.
Here’s the statement he just posted to his Facebook page:
Working with students from Clackamas Community College and several other community groups, we crafted a public service announcement designed to catch people’s attention. It did – but for the wrong reasons, particularly after the hateful, racist attack on protesters in Virginia.
Critics of the PSA drew similarities between the fictional scene in the ad and the too-real violence in Charlottesville. That is why I have decided to temporarily shut down the public awareness campaign. We will be working with advocates to see how we can more effectively get the intent of the PSA across in the future.
One of the points we tried to make in the ad is that none of us are perfect. People make mistakes. Drivers and pedestrians all need to watch for someone making a mistake on the road – a driver who turns to check on a crying child in the back seat; a pedestrian who gets confused and walks into an intersection against a red light; a person using the road who has chosen to endanger others by having too much to drink before traveling. People make mistakes. That’s true on the road, and that’s true in life. I look forward to working with community partners to find other ways to tell the message that inspire all road users to do their part to avoid any more traffic tragedies.
Representative, House District 48
Reardon has faced increasing pressure to end the campaign since it launched one week ago.
On Friday we published an editorial calling for the campaign to be taken down. The campaign was also strongly criticized by victims and survivors of traffic crashes and The Street Trust. Yesterday Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said the Bureau of Transportation (which he oversees) would not promote or use the video or campaign in any way despite their $12,000 investment in its creation. Saltzman also said he supports those who want it to be taken down.
As of right now, the campaign website and video are still online (update: a staffer with Reardon’s office says it’s in the process of being taken down). We hope Reardon keeps his word and takes the video and campaign down immediately. No amount of “working with community partners” will make a video that portrays illegal driving and the willful killing of another road user acceptable.
Thank you to everyone who commented, called, and emailed with your concerns over this ill-advised campaign.
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