IDOT's Walking Dead Parody Promotes Highway Safety


By Loreto Cruz III

DUQUOIN-- The Illinois Department of Transportation teamed up with Carbondale agency Arthur Enterprises to create "the Driving Dead". The campaign is designed to reach the target audience of the "The Walking Dead" TV show.

"We're hoping that we're getting to that 18 to 34 crowd," said IDOT Representative Les Nunes. "Statistics show that's the group where some of our fatalities are a little higher, and serious crashes are a little higher as well."

"All of the past campaigns were extremely helpful in dropping fatalities across the board, but that demographic remained stagnant for several years." said Arthur Enterprises employee Dennis Poshard. "The only thing that makes this different from things like the 'drive sober or get pulled over' campaign is that it doesn't focus on the image of a police officer with a breathalyzer. Hopefully, we're using pop culture to speak to who we need to."

Arthur Enterprises is a Carbondale-based production company and the lowest bidder for the project. The entire series was filmed either south of Carterville or in Muddy.

"I walked up and within three seconds, I wanted to know where I could watch this at." said "Walking Dead" Fanatic Tim Brueggemann.

Brueggemann and other fans say what caught their eye is Michael Rooker who plays "Merle Dixon" in the TV series. 

Rooker's brother was killed in a rollover accident years ago, so he was quick to jump on board with the project. He told his story in Chicago last month of how his brother was not wearing his seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. His brother was killed instantly.

@BishopOnAir and other users on twitter and social media chimed in on the project, saying things like "Tell me my taxes didn't pay for a "Recommended for audiences ages 18 and Over"". Users commented that they'd prefer the money be spent on roads, or other "more tangible" expenses.

"Even if they wanted to do that, they actually couldn't," said Poshard. The Driving Dead and its fellow campaigns are funded by the National Highway Traffic and Saftey Administration.

"The way the budget is built, if each state doesn't use the money they're allocated, they lose the difference the next year," said Poshard.  The Driving Dead's cost is very similar  to other campaigns that have been done for the Illinois. According to Poshard, "Click it or Ticket" and the others each cost roughly $140,000.

Despite the efforts, IDOT's web site states more than 900 people in Illinois died on the road in 2013. Not wearing a seat belt accounts for nearly half of those deaths, and alcohol plays a role in more than a third. It's a mistake that the IDOT tent at the Duquoin State fair tried to show people.

Visitors could steer a trike through a small obstacle course while wearing "drunk goggles." Cones representing small children and school busses littered the course. Volunteers followed close behind each participant, keeping track of the death toll.

"It's not worth it," said one obstacle course participant. "Taking someone else's life, it all can happen."

Click here to check out the series premiere of the Driving Dead.




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