Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, and one of them is that "dangerous driving" is really dangerous. This trope usually comes into play in a Very Special Episode on driving safely. A character may be severely injured (at least for the duration of the episode) or killed as a result of taking chances behind a steering wheel, or as the result of another character's bad driving decision.
Many of these are aimed at younger drivers, seen (with some justification) as being more likely to engage in risky driving behavior. However, older demographics have always gotten hit with the "don't drive drunk" message, and are getting more of these storylines as other distractions behind the wheel such as cell phones become more commonly used by older drivers.
- Burma-Shave's original signs did this in grimly tongue-in-cheek style. Example: "A Miss/A Car/A Kiss/A Curve/He Kissed The Miss/And Missed The Curve."
- The original namesake of Dilbert was a Navy pilot version of this, depicting a pilot making various dumb mistakes or pulling stunts and coming to grief because of it.
- A too constant use of this trope on TV is parodied in a Achille Talon where, for some reason, the An Aesop that the TV presenter kept coming with at the end of various programs (including a western action movie, a children cartoon, a news program and a quiz game, neither of them talking about cars at any point) was "Be careful when you drive".
- Averted with Footloose in that the ban on dancing is because of five teenagers dying in a car accident when returning from a dance club drunk, but the message is that kids should be allowed to express themselves.
- The first Mad Max movie was intended to be a warning about consequences of dangerous driving. The hoons and rev-heads who saw it left feeling that their lifestyle had been validated.
- Last Clear Chance is a short film produced by Union Pacific (yes, the railroad company) where a cop drops in on a farm family to explain to the youngest son—who just got his driver's license—all the ways he could die horribly if he drives carelessly. Especially if he drives carelessly near railroad tracks. And then, because they live in a cruel, merciless world, the older brother crashes his car into the side of a moving train—killing himself and his fiancee—not ten minutes later.
Railroad employee: Why don't they look, Carl? Why don't they look?
- The Days of Our Years is another Union Pacific-produced film. This one is mainly about workplace safety, but it does include one cautionary tale about unsafe driving. Joe, excited about his engagement, drives recklessly home from work. He rolls over his truck and has to wear a neck brace for the foreseeable future.
- Doctor Strange (2016): Stephen Strange's mangled hands (and thus, quest to learn the mystic arts) are the direct result of his driving distracted on a winding road at night during bad weather, while speeding. The end credits include a warning against distracted driving.
- They don't really labor the point, but initiating event in Seven Pounds is the protagonist answering a text while driving, drifting over a center line, and causing a major crash. They don't really underline the point that it could have all been avoided if he'd left his phone in his pocket, but his suicidal guilt over his responsibility in the crash is the driving force of the entire film.
- Has happened several times on Degrassi, most memorably with the death of Adam by texting Becky that he still loves her and is going to win her over.
- Top Gear tends to play this for laughs.
- Just before one season, Richard shoots a segment where he drives a jet-powered dragster called the Vampire. Infamously, he crashed on a high speed run and ended up critically injured. When the (delayed) following season debuted, Jeremy opened by explaining what had happened and detailing the circumstances of the crash. Then he turns to a now recovered Richard and says "Thank you, Richard, for reminding us that speed kills."
- A later episode was shot to remind people that trying to beat a train to a crossing can be fatal. They demonstrate this by placing a van with a crash dummy inside on a crossing and having a train hit it. Jeremy shows footage of the wreckage and points out...that the dummy isn't wearing his reflective vest.
- Dance Moms features a routine called "The Last Text" that simulates six girls dying in a car accident due to distracted driving, ending with the Sole Survivor running off-stage in horror and grief. Can be watched here.
- In Glee, Quinn gets paralyzed for a short while due to texting when driving and in the next episode has a rant at Finn, who walked into people in the hallway because of looking at his phone. Finn, also, almost killed a mailman when learning to drive which is treated as his turn-off. During Quinn's storyline, she starts being the character mouthpiece to drive the story home, until Artie (who was paralyzed in a car accident as a child) helps her chill out.
- In Go On Ryan's wife died some time before the pilot and he's still dealing with it. It turns out that she died in a car accident while texting, so now Ryan is very upset when he sees people texting while driving. He throws a beverage at Terrell Owens when he sees him doing it. The pilot ends with star Matthew Perry out of character doing a PSA against texting while driving.
- CHiPs would do this on occasion. One example is the episode "Wheels of Justice" which starts with a multiple car accident caused by a drunk driver. His sober wife switches places with him while nobody's looking and he's acquitted since no one can prove he was actually driving. At the end of the episode, he gets into another accident while driving drunk. This time, his wife is killed.
- MythBusters tested several scenarios said to cause dangerous driving, including:
- Most seasons of Canada's Worst Driver feature a "Distracted Driving" challenge. Unlike most challenges, the point isn't to teach the bad drivers how to eat, do their makeup, or send text messages while driving; it's to show them they can't do those things.
- Grey's Anatomy: It's not treated like a big life lesson, but it's hard not to take the message when there's a Musical Episode dedicated to it: Callie and Arizona are driving to go on vacation. Arizona is driving, proposes to Callie and waits for a response — when she turns back to the road they're only a second from impact with a truck.
- The music video for Simple Plan's song "Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me?)" depicts a fatal traffic collision and its aftermath, in which friends and relatives of the victim are thrown about, as if hit by a speeding car themselves, symbolizing the rippling impact of the driver's carelessness ruining the lives of more than just those directly involved.
- The video for Geggy Tah's "Whoever You Are" is made to look like a driver's ed film from the 60's. The last part specifically warns against drunk driving. Although you have to wonder how seriously the band takes the lessons given that they're playing their instruments in the car.
- One early episode of The Simpsons has one of these types of films (It stars Troy McClure and is part of a series including "Alice's Adventures Through the Windshield Glass" and "The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot") being shown to Homer after he was caught on a traffic offence, but he thinks it is a comedy show and ends up laughing all the way through it.
- The Private Snafu series of cartoons was produced by Warner Bros. as instructional videos for the American army during World War Two. Focusing on the titular Snafu, an incompetent soldier, this taught soldiers the do's and don'ts. This trope was Played for Laughs in one episode that had Snafu driving a jeep, but getting distracted by a poster of a woman in lingerie and crashing. Explosions ensued, but being a cartoon, Snafu was perfectly okay. Since the shorts were entertaining, soldiers paid attention and they still got the message across.
- Spoofed on Rocko's Modern Life with a film shown on traffic class which had a crash test done with dummies made out of tomatoes, making for extra gory results.
- The famous 1950 Disney short Motor Mania, in which Goofy plays a dual role as kind pedestrian Mr. Walker and demon driver Mr. Wheeler.
- A pair of 1965 featurettes had Goofy on the road again, this time discussing proper etiquette and care on the freeway.
- The 1957 short "The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A." is about a town that puts automobiles on trial for all the damage they cause with their reckless driving. The defense argues successfully that the culprit is not the cars themselves but the people driving them.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode, "Boat Smarts", Mrs. Puff films an instructional video as an attempt to teach the viewers the differences between a driver with boat smarts (Squidward) and a driver without boat smarts (SpongeBob). While Squidward does follow proper driving safety procedures, he still gets maimed, tortured, and beaten thanks to SpongeBob's recklessness, while SpongeBob goes through the whole episode unscathed.
- A humorous version occurs in the Sonic Boom episode, "Three Men and my Baby!". The plot is started by Knuckles being distracted by the pizza oven in his monster truck, causing an accident. After the events of the episode, they solve the problem by making it so the oven can only work when the truck is parked.
Knuckles: Remember, kids, don't cook and drive!
- In Metalocalypse Toki and Skigskar get busted in a DWI and are sent to driving school to regain their licsene. During one of their classes their shown a rather morbid video called "Crash Site on the Corner of Blood Street and Guts Circle" that covers unsafe driving which isn't afraid to show the gory results of the accidents much to the two's discomfort.
- A compilation video of pedestrians getting hit at a crosswalk in Thailand is being used to send a powerful message to encourage cars to stop at crosswalks, and for pedestrians to cross at crosswalks rather than jaywalk. (warning: graphic content)