Pet Shop Boys ‘gay anthem’ drives motorway safety ads

breakdown 2Highways England is gearing up for the motorway madness which is predicted to follow the lifting of Covid travel bans with what is claimed to be the biggest ever ad campaign to give motorists clear advice about what to do in an emergency.

Millions of journeys are made every day on the country’s busiest roads – motorways and major A-roads – and most are incident-free. But around and when you are on a busy motorway that can be frightening.

The campaign, supported by partners across the recovery industry and independent road safety campaigner Meera Naran, targets the 600 daily motorway breakdowns by urging motorists to “Go Left”, set to the tune of the Pet Shop Boys’ top ten gay anthem Go West, originally released by Village People.

It follows focus group testing that found the distinctive characters, music and humour made the message more memorable and people will remember what to do in the event of an emergency.

Highways England acting chief executive Nick Harris said: “No one plans to break down on a motorway, but if the unexpected happens then I want all motorists to know what to do so that they can keep themselves and others safe.

“Everyone wants a safe journey and raising awareness is a vital part of helping to make sure that happens. This new campaign and its ‘Go left’ message is designed to deliver crucial information in an accessible way and to help make motorways safer for the people who use them.

“This campaign is just one of the many steps we are taking to invest in our network with safety as our number one priority, doing everything we can to help drivers feel confident on our motorways.”

The campaign is part of an 18-point action plan set out in the Evidence Stocktake published by the Department for Transport in March last year.

The Transport Secretary called on Highways England to deliver the campaign to improve safety and public confidence on smart motorways. The minister has requested a report updating progress on the action plan to date.

In 2019, there were almost 230,000 reported breakdowns across the Highways England network, the vast majority – around 207,500 – on motorways. In the 12 months from June 2019, around 40,000 breakdowns were recorded as being due to tyre issues while more than 6,000 incidents were a result of vehicles running out of fuel.

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