Photo by Cindy Barks.
Originally Published: June 25, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT – Surgeons, airplane pilots, lumberjacks: They are all professions that undoubtedly require focused attention.
A new campaign will equate those jobs to a task that most people do every day – driving.
The Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) and Cable One have teamed up to produce a series of television and online public service announcements on the dangers of distracted driving.
To get their point across, the commercials will highlight various professions in which concentration is a life-or-death matter. The first installment focuses on surgery.
“You don’t want your surgeon distracted; we don’t want you distracted behind the wheel,” Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher said into the camera in a filming session this past week. “It only takes one second.”
CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges said the idea for the PSAs arose, in part, from recent statistics from the Arizona Department of Transportation, which showed that fatalities on Arizona roadways were up dramatically in 2015.
The regional transportation-planning organization also recently received an analysis on traffic at the Robert Road/Highway 89A intersection, which highlighted the dangers of not paying enough attention to the road.
Distracted driving – caused by everything from eating behind the wheel, to texting and talking on the phone while driving, to adjusting the car radio – contributed to 12 to 16 percent of the car accidents, Bridges said.
That prompted the CYMPO executive board to make distracted driving a priority, which, in turn, led to discussions with Cable One about how to implement the program. Cable One Account Executive Rebecca Banks says talks have been under way for the past six months or so on how best to get the word out.
Ultimately, the two organizations came up with the plan for an aggressive public-service campaign, which would air on multiple television channels, as well as targeted online sites.
“With every step, we really built momentum,” Banks said.
That culminated this past week with the filming of the first commercial installment. Because it is crucial that local drivers can relate to the message, Banks said the group decided to use recognizable local officials and residents.
The first PSA will feature former Prescott City Councilman Chris Kuknyo as the surgeon, followed up by the distracted-driving message from Mascher.
The first commercial should begin airing in July 1. The group will unveil new PSA messages about every six months.
While CYMPO Transportation Planner Vincent Gallegos says the future featured professions have yet to be determined, some ideas include helicopter pilots, airplane pilots, and lumberjacks. Likewise, future installments will feature other law enforcement officials from around the region.
Bridges says CYMPO is putting about $15,000 into the campaign, and Banks said Cable One’s contribution would total about $30,000.