City of Dickson Police Department Lt. David Cole, who has been a staunch advocate of seat belt use for many years, has helped to create a new message about the safety feature.
Cole approached Kem Schmalzer about making a 30-second ﬁlm and television public service announcement. Schmalzer, a retired award-winning film editor and now stay-at-home mom in Charlotte, said she was more than happy to help as the message hit a personal note with her.
“My sister died when she was 21 after she rolled her SUV. She was not wearing a seat belt,” Schmalzer said. “That, and having two teenage drivers, was a powerful motivator to do something to get Lt. Cole’s message across.”
There are several approaches to getting a message across in a public service announcement. Schmalzer said she wanted viewers to feel good about buckling up and coined the catch phrase, “For All You Live For” followed up by Cole’s message, “Seat Belts Save Lives.”
The PSA starts with several individuals buckling up and then shows a girl jumping in the air, two teens doing a congratulatory handslap/handshake, a high school couple on their way to prom, and a mom and her son dancing.
“I’ve edited hundreds of commercials and public service announcements,” Schmalzer said. “The biggest mistake I’ve seen with PSAs is the propensity to bombard your audience with one fact or warning after another. You’ve got to leave your viewer feeling something. That can be shock, sadness, humor or fear. In this case, Lt. Cole and I went for a heartfelt approach.”
In the ﬁrst 48 hours after a soft launch on social media, the PSA attracted more than 8,200 views. It is also being broadcast in 35 markets by the Nashville Education, Community and Arts Television network and plays before all movie showings at the Roxy Theater in Dickson.
Cole’s 2017 Seat Belt Selﬁe social media campaign caught statewide attention, and he was awarded the “Directors Award” through the Tennessee Highway Safety Ofﬁce.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and Tennessee Highway Patrol there were 1,047 trafﬁc fatalities in Tennessee in 2018, a 2.2 percent increase from 2017. Of those fatalities, 299 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of their death.
“We could greatly reduce trafﬁc fatalities if we can get more people to just buckle up,” Cole said.
Although Cole said he is ecstatic about the number of people seeing the message, he’s more interested in increasing the number of people wearing a seat belt.
“I would love to see parents/adults being good role models for their own kids and even for their neighbors or friend’s kids by simply buckling up. That would help show those kids that it must be a good idea because a parent/role model buckled up. I believe in leading by example and trying to be the best role model I can to help lead the way … the correct way,” Cole said.