The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

A Dose of Dowd: As seen on TV

Aaron Vehling

Whether it begins with a couple of kids smoking marijuana in their dad’s den or a car illuminated by an ambulance’s flashing lights, we’ve all seen a public service announcement or two.

PSAs and advocacy commercials range from informative to preachy and from serious to hammy.

It’s too bad these stupid commercials obscure the ones with a vital message that impacts people’s real safety and well being.

The crop of anti-smoking campaigns run by thetruth anti-smoking advocacy group makes me want to light up in protest of its annoying protests.

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In addition, last year’s scare tactic public service announcements that claimed marijuana smokers supported terrorism created more laughs than thought – even from people who weren’t high while watching TV.

The public knows the facts about smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and these commercials just annoy those who know how to make the choice to smoke or not.

I’ve never met a person who decided to stop smoking because a commercial told them to do so.

More practical issues involving safety were ignored while more utopian ideas stole airtime from erectile dysfunction medication commercials.

Last winter, a decent crop of PSAs emerged that helped me think of my own safety.

These PSAs aired last year on Wisconsin television and conveyed an important message that did not need to be dressed up by scary propaganda or an angelically-lit sitcom star.

That series was the “Snow equals slow” winter road safety campaign.

The series of commercials, which warned drivers of the dangerous winter road conditions, actually made me stop and think about my own driving habits.

Everyone needs to take a serious self-evaluation of his or her driving skills in winter.

During my freshman year, I ventured out into a beautiful winter wonderland of snow and deadly black ice. I was driving down Clairemont Avenue when I realized I was driving too fast and too furiously.

When I slid through the second set of stoplights, it dawned on me that driving in the middle of a snowstorm in a city I was unfamiliar with was idiotic.

If you haven’t driven around Eau Claire in wintertime, be warned: It gets very dangerous out there.

Since the campaign last year, I avoid driving in winter in bad conditions. When I do have to take to the road, I do so with the utmost care and caution.

Even last week’s mild winter storm brought my speed down and my attention up while driving a mere five blocks to and from work.

This campus has seen more death this semester than it deserves, and no one wants to hear about friends who died in a car crash because of careless driving in bad conditions.

When driving carelessly, people endanger not only themselves and their passengers, but also others on the road and pedestrians.

Though you may survive the accident, innocent bystanders may die.

If you get in an accident and no one is hurt, let that fortunate occasion serve as a wake up call that you need to focus more on your driving.

When driving in bad conditions, put away the cell phone, stop fiddling with the damn radio, don’t pass the travel time reading and pay attention to the road and others around you.

To everyone who must venture out on snowy, slushy or otherwise slippery roads, take heed of the one public service announcement that is worth 30 seconds of airtime.

Dowd is a senior print journalism major and editorial editor of The Spectator. “A Dose of Dowd”appears every Thursday on the Opinion page.

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A Dose of Dowd: As seen on TV