Toronto

Toronto billboard from a fake funeral home warns of the danger of texting and driving

Text and Drive. That's what is splashed across a billboard located along the Gardiner Expressway that's posing as a clever public service announcement.

Billboard located along the Gardiner Expressway

A billboard that states "Text and Drive" located along the Gardiner Expressway is a public service announcement produced in collaboration by ad agency John St., and Cieslok Media. (CBC News/John St./Cieslok Media)

Text and Drive.

That's the message splashed across a billboard on the Gardiner Expressway — that can't help but catch your attention. At first blush, it looks like it's sponsored by Wathan Funeral Home. 

But — gotcha! — it's actually a public service announcement, albeit a somber one. 

Wathan Funeral Home has a website that says it's actually a fake. 

"It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do," a statement written on the faux-funeral home's website. "But we're not a funeral home. We're just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving."

When the idea came across Angus Tucker's desk, the co-executive director at John St. ad agency said he knew it would hit home with drivers. 

"It's three words — text and drive — but I think the fact that it doesn't say 'Don't' in front of it, which what you're so used to seeing ... it makes you look at it and go, 'What's this all about it?" Tucker said.

More than 99,000 charged

​Distracted driving now outpaces the number of impaired driving offences seen across the city, Toronto police traffic officer Const. Clint Stibbe said. He said that police have seen more than 99,000 people charged with using a "hand-held communication device" while driving since they began enforcing the new legislation in 2010.

"We have not seen anywhere near the number of individuals arrested or charged for impaired driving," Const. Stibbe said.

Tucker says his agency is not making any commission on the billboard — and they were given the ad space for free by Cieslok Media. 

"We're not making any money on this, we don't want to, we just thought that it was an interesting idea that needed to be seen."

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