Many years ago, Cathy was driving her little Mini along Piccadilly.
It was one of the original tiny Minis, she was turning into Haymarket with all the traffic.
The road narrowed at that point, so she was diagonally in front of a large lorry.
Everyone was stopped, waiting at the traffic lights.
As the lights changed the lorry moved off straight into the side of Cathy’s car.
There was a huge hook on the front that came through the window and stoved in the door.
The lorry didn’t stop it just kept going.
Cathy’s car was being pushed along sideways with the lorry trying to roll over it.
Cathy was yelling but all she could hear was the roar of the engine and all she could see was the huge hook on the truck’s front bumper next to her face.
People on the pavement were yelling trying to stop the truck-driver but he kept going.
The lorry was pushing her the length of Haymarket, down to Pall Mall.
The only thing stopping the lorry rolling over the Mini was the huge hook that had gone through the window and was now stuck in the roof.
Eventually the driver stopped, he and two mates got out of the cab to see what everyone was yelling at.
Everyone kept asking the driver why he didn’t stop, he just kept repeating he hadn’t seen Cathy’s little Mini in front.
The driver kept repeating, “I just thought the engine was running a bit lumpy”.
Of course the Mini was a crumpled write-off, but Cathy couldn’t believe that the driver and his two mates couldn’t see a car in front of them.
It does seem unbelievable, but I’ve just seen a French commercial that would save lives if it was running in the UK.
There’s no VO at all, no soundtrack, no subtitles, just a silent one-shot demo.
It’s a 40 second ad shot from the lorry-driver’s PoV, in a stationery lorry.
The camera starts off looking though the windscreen at the empty road ahead.
At 5 secs the camera pans right and zooms in to the empty side-mirror, nothing behind.
At 10 secs the camera pans left and zooms in to the other empty mirror, nothing alongside.
At 15 secs the driver opens the door and gets out.
At 20 secs the camera sees the SIX bikes that it couldn’t see in the mirror, next to the lorry.
At 25 secs the camera walks in front of the lorry and sees a CHILD it couldn’t see through the windscreen.
At 30 secs the camera walks to the other side and sees another SIX bikes it couldn’t see in that mirror.
At 35 secs it mixes to an overhead diagram showing all the people that were invisible from the driver’s seat, including THREE pedestrians behind the lorry.
At 40 secs we see the blind spots and the only words appear in French: ANGLES MORTS (Angles of Death).
Not a word is spoken throughout the whole ad, just a perfectly straight, single-shot demonstration of what can’t be seen from the driver’s position.
That’s what makes it so powerful, there’s no attempt to use impactful words or dramatic music to tell you what you’re supposed to think, which why it’s all the more shocking.
If cyclists and pedestrians saw this ad they’d know they can’t rely on lorry-drivers to see them, and they’d stay as far away from lorries as possible.
Years back, I saw a sign on the back of a lorry: IF YOU CAN’T SEE MY MIRRORS I CAN’T SEE YOU.
This was good advice for cyclists behind lorries, but it’s actually worse than that.
Lorry drivers can’t see what’s in front of them, below the windscreen, as Cathy found out.
We should be running ads like that on TV over here.
Years back the COI (Central Office of Information) used to run advertising campaigns that told people what they needed to know to stay safe.
They stopped doing it about twenty years ago, to save money.
I think they should start doing it again, it would be more useful than a lot of the things the government spends our money on.