One of my most popular columns of recent times highlighted a safety booklet from the 1940s entitled “It’s Great to Be Alive.” If you didn’t catch that installment, you should take a look — it’s pretty funny how gruesome some of the safety warnings for kids were back then.
I recently came across another safety pamphlet published by the same group, the Police Safety Council. This time the focus is on bicycle safety, with a few general safety tips thrown in. (I’ll share those scans next week.) This booklet shows, in graphic detail, what the worst possible consequences are for kids who don’t obey basic rules of the road. These pamphlets were distributed by local police departments through schools and other outlets. Click on any image for a larger version.
The booklet starts out innocently enough, with a few basic tips for safe bike riding. But from there things quickly turn grim.
For page after page, the story is the same. In each case the kids try something they shouldn’t, like riding two on a bike, speeding, not paying attention, or the like. Then, in the last frame, the dire consequences are revealed.
In most cases the kids are killed outright.
Though in some circumstances there are serious injuries, including being crippled for life.
My favorite are the ones where death seems almost like an afterthought, as in these two, where the skull fracture is not quite enough to scare kids — they had to add “and death” to the mix.
After a few pages you can easily see what’s coming to the poor, innocent children. A broken back is, indeed, a stiff penalty to pay for a moment of so-called fun.
I’m still not sure these tactics worked very well, and I do have to wonder if the copywriter wasn’t a bit twisted. Though I suspect the effort to try and save lives was sincere.
Tune in next Friday for more safety tips from the same artist and copywriter, all of a slightly more positive nature.
Originally published January 13, 2012