Depending on your point of view, Volkswagen should be lauded or eviscerated for the music that it has been using in its television spots (including Son Volt, Lemon Jelly, John Dragonetti, and other tunes). It is quite evident that the German automaker (which, by the way, produces those Beetles in Mexico, not the Black Forrest, so don’t imagine that there are clever overall-wearing technicians or even elves building the bugs) is looking to score with a younger automotive customer, perhaps hoping against hope that someday the kids will grow into financially sound adults who will be able to spend on the order of $85,000 to $100,000 (in today’s dollars) to buy a VW Phaeton—that’s right: A Volkswagen that’s going for a tenth of a million dollars. You can buy a lot of discs, components, concert tickets, liquor, and pharmaceuticals for that kind of scratch—and still have cash left over to buy a set of wheels.
But the question that arises is whether that targeted demographic won’t end up as, well, targets of the vehicles that they are riding in. Broken. Maimed. Dead. Incapable of buying Volkswagens or even the tunes behind the VW commercials. That is, Volkswagen of America recently conducted a survey among American teens. The question was whether they wear seat belts. And why they don’t, because many of them don’t. Apparently, in 2001 there were more than 5K teens who didn’t live to see their 20s because they died in traffic accidents. Of that number, two-thirds (~33-1/3 K) weren’t wearing seat belts.
The reasons why teens don’t wear belts are simply stupid. The number one reason? “Uncool.” That is the response of 32% surveyed. Let see, there’s that asinine little flower vase that’s attached to the instrument panel of the New Beetle: Great! a flower available in real-time for the funeral parlor display. That’s quite cool. The second reason, coming in at 30%, is “Uncomfortable.” In the grand scheme of things—or, since we’re dealing with life and death issues here, that probably should be Grand Scheme of Things—that nylon strap is probably somewhat less annoying, than, oh, a funeral urn. (OK. Not everyone who gets in an accident while not wearing a seat belt isn’t DOA. So let’s just compare the seat belt constriction with a full-body cast.) One of the explanations behind the “Uncomfortable” response is that the seat belt “wrinkles clothes.” Ah, sartorial splendor smeared across the asphalt.
The National High Traffic Safety Administration, which is interested in such things as people being comparatively safe while hurling down strips of pave in two-tons of mass at speeds all of which can kill you, won’t tell you this quite this way, but we will:
Wear Your Fucking Seatbelts, Teens (So Perhaps Some Day You Can Get To Be As Ill-Tempered As Those Of Us Here At GloNo)