"Dude. Engage!" In the Academy's public service television spot, the distracted walker focuses on his phone as he inflicts "mayhem, destruction, and carnage" in his wake.


Published 4/1/2016
Terry Stanton

Academy to Public: When You're on Your Feet, Stay on Your Toes

New PSA campaign addresses distracted walking, promotes injury prevention and spine-impairment research

The Academy recently unveiled its 2016 public service announcement (PSA) campaign, which will be distributed to more than 9,000 media outlets across the country. This year's multimedia program—television, radio, and print PSAs—advises the public on how to prevent serious injuries, and emphasizes the following:

  • The dangers of distracted walking;
  • The importance of safe, proper ladder use; 
  • The significance of bicycle-riders and drivers sharing the road; and
  • Early intervention for spine-related impairment

"The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons champions the interests of patients by promoting and advancing optimal musculoskeletal health, injury prevention, and the highest quality patient treatment and care," said AAOS President Gerald R. Williams Jr, MD. "This year's PSAs highlight four important safety topics aimed at elevating public awareness—from sprains, tears, and fractures to getting the proper treatment for spine-related impairment.

"We are a multitasking society, but that behavior can impair our ability to get from point A to point B safely," said Dr. Williams. "Texting, music playing, and technology-distracted pedestrians also are posing a significant public risk to themselves and to others." This year's television ad uses humorous video to highlight the serious dangers of distracted pedestrians. In addition, our print advertisements promote research for spine-related impairment for veterans and publicize bicycle safety and the potential dangers of falling from a ladder—serious health issues that injure tens of thousands of Americans each year."

"Digital Deadwalkers"
For television, the Academy is reissuing a spot, created last year, on the hazards of distracted walking.

"This is the city where danger lurks," says the announcer in the "Digital Deadwalker" television PSA, as people jump out of the way, ladders get backed over by cars, and drivers slam on their brakes. After much destruction, the source of the chaos is finally revealed: a distracted walker focusing on his phone instead of on the people, cars, and obstructions around him. When he nearly collides with an older couple, the woman stops him and says: "Dude. Engage!"  The PSA directs viewers to OrthoInfo.org/DistractedPedestrians for more information and safety tips.

In 2015, the AAOS Communications Cabinet commissioned a study on distracted walking, which revealed an overall attitude among respondents of "it's not me, it's you," cutting across a range of distracted walking behaviors.

The study noted, "One of the challenges in combatting distracted walking may be that many Americans are overly confident in their ability to multitask. When asked why they walk distracted, 48 percent of respondents say they 'just don't think about it,' 28 percent feel they 'can walk and do other things,' and 22 percent 'are busy and want to use their time productively.'"

Safety first
The 2016 print campaign further addresses injury prevention with ads reminding drivers to share the road with bicyclists ("Riders aren't always in the right. But they are always fragile.") and emphasizing ladder safety ("Ladder safety should not be learned on the fly.") The ladder ad has an accompanying radio spot.

The other print ad in the campaign speaks in support of preventing long-term spine-related disability in military veterans and of research toward that effort.

The Academy's PSA campaigns serve an important public safety purpose in educating the public about the importance of awareness and the steps that can be taken to prevent injuries from dangerous practices. In doing so, the messages also highlight the role of the orthopaedic surgeon in promoting safety and wellness.

"Dude. Engage!" In the Academy's public service television spot, the distracted walker focuses on his phone as he inflicts "mayhem, destruction, and carnage" in his wake.
The new AAOS bicycle safety public service campaign highlights the importance of being aware of bicyclists on the road.
The AAOS public service ad promoting ladder safety directs readers to OrthoInfo.org/LadderSafety, which provides tips for safe ladder use.

"The Academy is committed to increasing the public's awareness of bone and joint health conditions," said Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, AAOS Communications Cabinet chair. The Cabinet, along with the Public Relations department, collaborates and works with an outside advertising agency to create the multimedia campaign, which is then issued to more than 8,000 media outlets around the country. Academy members can also bring the campaign to their offices, with posters and postcards available from the AAOS.

"The theme of these ads is simple: Although orthopaedic surgeons treat bone and joint injuries, we also try to prevent these injuries by raising public awareness of dangerous activities that put people at risk for musculoskeletal injury," Dr. Hilibrand said. "Our PSA campaign provides us an opportunity to promote timely and relevant musculoskeletal messages to past, present, and future patients with the goal to educate and inform the general public about the value of orthopaedic care."

Members who are interested in materials for their office should visit www.aaos.org/prresources to place an order, or email publicrelations@aaos.org

Terry Stanton is the senior science writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at tstanton@aaos.org

To Find Out More …
Each Academy PSA directs the public to OrthoInfo.org, which provides further information, including the following:

Riders aren't always in the right. But they are always fragile.
Bike riding as a form of transportation is on the rise—which means more opportunity for bike-related injuries. According to a 2015 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the number of cyclists ages 45 and older seeking treatment for bicycle-related injuries rose 81 percent and the number of hospital admissions among the same group was up 66 percent between 1998 and 2013. So, even when a rider does something boneheaded, remember—your broken headlight is easier to fix than their broken bones. Take the high road and give bicyclists the space they need to ride safely. Check out our website for more bike safety tips.

Visit OrthoInfo.org/BikeSafety
Presented in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association

It's time to evolve our methods for supporting spine-injured veterans.
Spine impairment is a leading cause of disability for veterans—and it's on the rise. Studies have demonstrated long-term disability in military personnel with musculoskeletal conditions, but fortunately, early intervention can help prevent long-term spine-related disability. Support research to help treat and defeat these injuries in veterans. The spine care a veteran receives plays a difference in how quickly he or she is able to get back to work, to play, and to a life he or she loves.

Visit OrthoInfo.org/BackVetsUp
Presented in partnership with the North American Spine Foundation

Ladder safety should not be learned on the fly.
Climbing on a ladder might be the most dangerous thing you do all year. You can step off of the ladder the wrong way, slip off a step, or just not take the proper ladder safety precautions because you are in a hurry. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 500,000 ladder-related injuries required medical treatment in 2014. Most injuries are cuts, bruises, or even fractured bones, especially broken foot and ankle bones. Make sure you have the balance and strength to use a ladder. Take the time to secure it properly. Don't stand above the marked level and always wear lace-up shoes or boots. Check our website for more safety tips.

Visit OrthoInfo.org/LadderSafety
Presented in partnership with the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society