TAC Road Safety Advertising 20 Years On

TAC, the Transport Accident Commission in Victoria, Australia, has launched a five minute retrospective video looking back over twenty years of road safety television commercials. The video, broadcast on Seven, Nine, Ten and SBS at 8.30 pm, December 10, 2009, was supplemented by Shine a Light Day on which all drivers are asked to turn their headlights on to remember the victims of road trauma.

TAC Drive Safely This Christmas

On December 10th 1989 the first TAC commercial went to air. In that year the road toll was 776; by last year it had fallen to 303. The montage features iconic scenes and images from commercials that have helped change they way we drive, all edited to the moving song Everybody Hurts by REM. This version, available online, is five minutes long.

Click on the image below to play the video.

The first TAC commercial, aired on December 10th 1989, told the story of a young man whose drunk driving had led to his girlfriend being admitted to hospital with serious injuries. Nurse Karen Warnecke, Charge Nurse at Royal Melbourne Hospital, open the ad with the iconic words, “If you drink, then drive, you’re a bloody idiot”. The brief was to “upset, outrage and appall”.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Premier John Brumby, speaking at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where the first TAC advertisement was filmed, reminded all Victorians that reducing road trauma was a community effort.

“These powerful images send a strong message about the devastating effects of road trauma on so many Victorian families. In 1989, the year when the first TAC advertisement aired, 776 people were killed on Victorian roads. Since 1989, more than 8200 people have died on the roads. Of those 3740 were drivers, 1872 were passengers, 1500 were pedestrians, 944 were motorcyclists and 238 were cyclists. The road toll has reduced dramatically in recent years, but hundreds of families are still losing loved ones on our roads. Thousands more are seriously injured. We need to remain vigilant and take our responsibilities on the roads very seriously.”

TAC Minister Tim Holding said the reduction in the road toll was a combined effort of the TAC’s public education campaigns, police enforcement and improvements in road rules and road safety.

“The powerful images of the TAC campaigns have ensured that people across Victoria sit up and take notice of the devastating impacts of road trauma. The reality is that the real life impacts of road trauma are far worse than anything we will ever see in a TAC advertisement. The Government has worked hard to keep the road toll low and there is no room for complacency now. People need to take their driving responsibilities very seriously, especially over Christmas.”

TAC Watch the Road Toll Halve


The TAC campaign has been consistently carried by Grey Melbourne, with just two creative directors, Greg Harper, who created the campaign, and Nigel Dawson. Only a handful of writers and art directors have worked on the business, along with only 5 Account Directors. 33 directors have got involved, along with practically everybody in the Victorian film industry.

See more of the TAC television commercials online at the recently launched TAC YouTube channel, and here at The Inspiration Room.

Filed under: Commercials, Road safety, TAC

Tagged: ,