But maybe the best and most well-known entity in the great history of public service announcements is the “I Learned It By Watching You” anti-drug campaign from 1987:
While it’s all very grainy and hazy now (just like the 80s, right, Duran Duran?), two things stand out from the commercial. The first is that the producers of this particular campaign believe that all high-school rock musicians (drummers and guitarists) smoke pot. The second is the father’s moustache. That thing is beautiful. With a moustache like that, there’s a good probability that he did smoke pot.
The PSA’s message, that “parents who use drugs have children who use drugs”, unfortunately, can now be applied to cover distracted driving.
Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) surveyed 1700 high-school juniors and seniors and found that, yes, parents are still individuals that children look up to and follow, and especially their driving behavior.
The survey determined that 91% of these teens watched their parents talking on the cell phone while driving. As a result, 90% of the teens reported engaging in the activity. For speeding, 88% of parents were observed driving over the speeding limit, with 94% of teens also driving too fast. 59% of parents were seen texting while driving, though a significantly higher amount of teens texted, at 78%. Kids reported that they caught their parents driving without a seatbelt 47% of the time, though the percentage of teens not wearing one while driving was at 33%. 20% and 7% of parents were thought to be driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana (respectively), while 15% and 16% of teens self-reported these driving behaviors.
It might seem like your high-school children are off in their own worlds, ignoring you every chance they get, or choosing to pick a fight and argument instead of talking. Regardless of the state of your relationship, this study shows that despite all the hormonal acrimony directed at parents that comes along with being a teenager, a parent’s actions often speak louder than words. Meaning the kids are still watching you even if they aren’t listening.
So try and practice what you preach and leave hypocrisy behind when it comes to driving habits. Be a good role model. Don’t talk or text in the car and, please, avoid driving under the influence.
If the PSA folks can find someone with a grown out moustache like the father from the anti-drug PSA, maybe they can film a reboot and make it iconoclastic again.
“Where did you learn how to do this stuff?!?!?”
That moustache won’t get old, especially if it’s leaning into a Prius or Fusion and yelling at a teenager. What a contrast.