CAA’s therapeutic approach to road safety

Who: The Canadian Automobile Association and One Twenty Three West.

What: “Road to Recovery,” a new campaign aimed at encouraging motorists and cyclists to do a better job of sharing the road.

When & Where: The campaign launches June 30 across connected TV, online and social.

Why: Canada averaged approximately 74 cyclists death each year between 2006 and 2017, according to Statistics Canada data, with collisions involving a motor vehicle accounting for nearly three-quarters (73%) of all cycling fatalities.

In approximately one-third of those cases, ignoring road safety rules such as stopping at a red light or stop sign, an unsafe lane change or change of direction—either by the cyclist or the other party—have been a contributing factor.

How: The campaign plays off the mutually antagonistic relationship between drivers and cyclists, but moves their feuding from the road to a therapist’s office.

In one 30-second spot, the therapist asks each aggrieved party to say what they like about the other, leading the motorist to reluctantly say that he likes the cyclist’s “goofy spandex.” The cyclist points out that it’s actually lycra, and fires back his own criticism at the motorist: “I see what you do at lights. We all do.”

In the other spot the cyclist tells the therapist he feels invisible, the motorist is so wrapped up in his own world that he doesn’t even see him. The driver responds by gesturing at the cyclist’s outfit and saying “Come on! Nobody is going to miss that.” Both spots end with the super “Drivers and cyclists just need space.”

“We wanted to clearly communicate that safer driving doesn’t require this huge shift in opinions or behaviour—really it’s just being a bit more mindful, making sure you’re leaving space,” said One Twenty Three West founder and creative director Rob Sweetman. “And it’s something everyone needs to look out for, drivers and cyclists alike.”

And we quote: “Drivers and cyclists are often seen at odds, but the truth is, we’re all at our best when we’re following the rules of the road. With this campaign, we wanted to improve road safety in a way that felt authentic. Cyclists and drivers sometimes get cranky with each other. That’s okay. We don’t need a kumbaya moment, but we do want both to care enough to keep each other safe.” —Ian Jack, vice-president of public affairs, CAA

Chris Powell