RADNOR Those who have sat through those pre-prom drunken-driving videos would recognize the smashed-up red Toyota outside the front doors of Radnor High School as a twist on a familiar theme - using an emotional ploy to persuade teenagers to stop hazardous behavior.
The exhibit, including a sign that reads "Please don't text and drive," is part of a Driver Safety Week program designed to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving.
And experts say it might even work - for a while, anyway.
The awareness campaign is not just about texting, but any activity that might take a driver's eyes off the road, said Lt. Christopher Flanagan of the Radnor Township Police Department.
In 2011, 10 percent of fatal crashes and 17 percent of injuries in crashes were the results of distractions such as cellphone use, eating, or adjusting a radio, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorists under age 25 are up to three more times likely than older drivers to text or send e-mails while driving, the NHTSA said.
But while the image of a crunched car might be alarming, attention-getting programs might only work temporarily to change the ingrained habit of reaching for the cellphone.
"Unfortunately, the research suggests those programs don't have much long-term impact on people's behavior," said Arthur Goodwin, a senior research associate with the Highway Safety Research Center.
Goodwin said more effective steps include laws to prohibit any use of cellphones while driving, company policies that ban talking or texting while driving during work hours, and cellphone blockers.
The blocking devices can detect when a phone is moving at a certain speed and can prevent it from receiving texts and calls while in motion, Goodwin said.
"Your phone doesn't ring, doesn't buzz, you are not tempted to answer," he said. Any phone message goes straight to voice mail, he added.
Pennsylvania has a law that bans texting while driving. "You cannot use a mobile device to send a text," said Trooper Adam Reed of the Pennsylvania state police.
The fine is $50 plus about $90 in court costs, he said.
New Jersey has banned the use of all handheld devices while driving. But the Pennsylvania law applies only to texting; a driver may look up directions or punch in a number to make a call, Reed said.
The safety campaign at Radnor includes other elements. Students hear about distracted driving in morning announcements and receive related information in their health classes.
Police will be on patrol near the Main Line school looking for any texting motorist, Flanagan said.
And isn't the smashed red car, donated by Ardmore Toyota for three weeks, a perfect example of the dangers of texting and driving?
Well, not exactly.
As it turns out, the driver of the red minivan wasn't texting, but using a GPS device on the phone.