Officials yank Don’t Jerk and Drive campaign

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Get your mind out of the gutter - "Don't Jerk and Drive" was about dangerous driving in weather conditions. Photo Credit: Oregon DOT/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY 2.0

Get your mind out of the gutter – “Don’t Jerk and Drive” was about dangerous driving in bad weather conditions. Photo Credit: Oregon DOT/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY 2.0

Authorities in South Dakota have yanked the “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign from rotation. The decision was made to pull the ads and materials, as they feel it sends the wrong message and might rub some people the wrong way.

Don’t Jerk and Drive does NOT mean what you think

The otherwise fine state of South Dakota recently embarked on an ad campaign that was intended to raise awareness of safe driving, which they called “Don’t Jerk and Drive.” The idea was actually to warn people of the dangers of overcorrection, which is otherwise known as “jerking the wheel.”

One can probably see why some people did not get the message as intended.

It’s a good message. Overcorrecting can lead to accidents, but let’s face it: the innuendo is about as subtle as neon green leather chaps without the bits that cover the posterior.

South Dakotan officials know it, too. State Secretary of the Department of Public Safety Trevor Jones stated that “I don’t want this innuendo to distract from our goal of trying to save lives on the road.”

Not just jerking the public around

The “Don’t Jerk And Drive” thing is funny. There’s no getting around it. It’s hard (pause for comedic effect) to get away from the obvious. However, the officials in the state of South Dakota were on to something.

First of all, it’s winter at the time of this writing. Winter often means conditions less amenable to traction and people can get into accidents by overcorrection. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report from Nov. 2009 found overcorrection to be among the leading factors of fatal accidents where a driver ran off the road, based on data from 1991 to 2007, though inattentiveness, distraction and alcohol were larger factors. (Point is that it’s still dangerous.)

The NHTSA report doesn’t state how many fatal crashes (and that report only studied single-car accidents) are caused by overcorrection, but a 2006 thesis by Abhishek Mishra, then a graduate student at Florida State University, found 25 percent of run-off-road (or ROR in the literature) crashes in Florida during the year 2000 were due to overcorrection.

Not so funny now is it

We can thus safely assume that a significant portion of crashes, in either lane or off the road, are due to people overcorrecting – and that’s what the “Don’t Jerk And Drive” campaign was on about.

However, for those who are just too curious for their own good, a 2010 study examined photographs of drivers at two different intersections – one in New York, one in Florida – and found 11 percent of males had their hands in…well, we’ll say their lap region, according to Jezebel. Most are likely just adjusting or scratching an itch.


Florida State University



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