Tennessee traffic safety officials are hoping to hammer home their message about driving safely this summer by bringing a part of their popular "Don't Get Nailed" campaign to Chattanooga streets.
This week, four cars with 10-foot fake nails through them have been scattered at high-visibility thoroughfares as part of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the Tennessee Highway Patrol's 100 Days of Summer Heat traffic-enforcement campaign.
"We're really pleased with the reaction to the 'Get Nailed' campaign," said Kendall Poole, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "Law enforcement has been very, very helpful in the campaign, and the public seems to indicate the program is drawing a lot of emotion and reaction."
Tennessee is using $750,000 in federal grants to pay for the summertime blitz. That money is buying television and radio commercials as well as paying for five "nailed" cars to travel the state. Four are in Chattanooga this week. After Saturday, the vehicles will go to the Tri-Cities area, Mr. Poole said.
Sgt. John Harmon with the local Tennessee Highway Patrol post said the program is aimed at saving lives, and he thinks it's been effective.
"We have many active safety campaigns throughout the summer," he said. "Part of the 100 Days of Summer Heat is the 'Don't Get Nailed' campaign. ... People have come up to us and talked to us about the campaign."
As Sgt. Harmon was showing reporters one of the cars on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, students walking or driving by craned their necks to get a second look at a older model Mercury Sable sedan with a huge nail driven through the car's hood.
On television, commercials show motorists committing various traffic offenses: driving drunk or too fast, without safety belts, and then highway patrol officers pulling the motorists over. The cars leave the police encounter with a huge nail driven into the vehicle.
"The TV commercials are funny, but it all makes sense," said Joey Gaston, 18, a UTC freshman. "I've seen people get killed in accidents that involved alcohol. It's all true, it's all effective."
Tennessee hired Knoxville-based marketing company Tombras Group to develop the marketing plan. Mr. Poole said the TV and radio spots will continue through mid-September, and the cars may be displayed elsewhere. He said the Tennessee Titans organization wants to display the vehicles outside its stadium.
WHERE TO SEE THEM
Local residents can see cars from the state's "Don't Get Nailed" campaign at several locations this weekend:
* CARTA parking lot -- Manufacturers Road at Cherokee Boulevard
* Coolidge Park -- 200 River St.
* FSG Bank -- 1740 Gunbarrel Road
* Hamilton Place mall -- location undetermined
He said the campaign is worth the hefty price tag, because he believes it's contributing to the state's declining traffic fatalities.
"In 2008 we had the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1963," Mr. Poole said. "We know our programs are working, and the 'Get Nailed' campaign represents us striking while the iron is hot."