Hollyoaks to air highlight shocking reckless driving consequences, but do soap ‘campaigns’ really work?

by Lynn Connolly

In forthcoming episodes of Hollyoaks, we’re going to see cop Ethan Scott (Craig Vye) smashing his car into student Rob Edwards (David Atkins) after taking his eyes off the road to use his mobile phone.

Viewers will be left wondering if Rob can possibly live with the injuries he sustained, and of course, Ethan’s life – his career and his liberty – will be changed forever after a mistake that lasted just seconds.

The storyline has been created with the collaboration of road safety charity Brake, who are about to launch a campaign highlighting the shocking number of road deaths among young people.

The campaign, which is entitled ‘Too Young to Die’ will specifically spotlight the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.

On the charity’s website, they state…

The effect of talking on a phone has been shown to be worse than drinking certain levels of alcohol. Driver reaction times have been found to be 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood and nearly 50% slower than driving under normal conditions.

When using a hand-help phone drivers take half a second longer to react than normal. At 70mph, this half-second difference is equivalent to travelling an additional 14 meters before reacting to a hazard on the road

Julie Townsend, the charity’s campaigns director said, “Too many young lives are lost and ruined through road crashes, which is why it is so important that popular TV shows such as Hollyoaks highlight the appalling consequences of crashes, and the simple things all drivers can do to help avoid them.”

The storyline will begin on Monday, November 14th when the soap airs on Channel 4.

What’s your opinion of campaigning via a soap opera? Can it really do any good, or do you think they have little effect?

Personally, I think they’re always well received. Take for instances the fact that thousands more women turned up for breast cancer checks after Corrie’s Sally Webster was diagnosed, and the thousands of kids who opened up about abuse at the hands of family members after Whitney Dean’s EastEnders abuse at the hands of her step-father was highlighted.

That said though, there are times when of course highlighting distressing issues can backfire spectacularly, as per the EastEnders baby swap storyline.

Let us know what you think.

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.