Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee & Other Cartoonists Create Animations to End Distracted Driving

Mod­el Ts were the aver­age American’s car of choice in 1921, when car­toon­ist Al Jaf­fee was born.

The father of MAD Mag­a­zine’s fold-ins was but sev­en when the T’s suc­ces­sor, the Mod­el A, was intro­duced.

It would be a long time before such inno­va­tions as seat belts, baby seats, and airbags were intro­duced. These safe­ty mea­sures do a fine job of min­i­miz­ing human dam­age in motor vehi­cle acci­dents, but they can’t pre­vent the col­li­sions them­selves.

To rem­e­dy this, Ford, the com­pa­ny respon­si­ble for the Mod­el T and hun­dreds of motor vehi­cles since, recent­ly enlist­ed Jaf­fee and his fel­low car­toon­ists, MK Brown and Bill Plymp­ton, to edu­cate the pub­lic on the dan­gers of dis­tract­ed dri­ving. Turns out this pre­ventable scourge rivals intox­i­ca­tion and haz­ardous road con­di­tions as a lead­ing cause of acci­dents.

Jaffee’s take, ani­mat­ed by J.J. Sedel­maier, above, will nev­er be mis­tak­en for film­mak­er Wern­er Her­zog’s har­row­ing anti-tex­ting doc­u­men­tary PSA, From One Sec­ond to the Next, or even Jaffee’s own anti-drunk dri­ving fold-in from MAD’s March 1975 issue.

Instead, he offers a gen­tle, child-friend­ly metaphor in which an uncaged bird becomes a hav­oc-wreak­ing dis­trac­tion. (For­tu­nate­ly, everyone’s wear­ing his seat­belt, and the lit­tle boy is rid­ing in back, in com­pli­ance with CDC rec­om­men­da­tions.)

Nation­al Lam­poon alum, Brown, tip­toes clos­er to the true caus­es of dis­trac­tion, with the alien-themed seg­ment, above, also ani­mat­ed by Sedel­maier. If it seems like­li­er that the alien’s earth­ling wife might do her hen­peck­ing via text rather than actu­al call these days—well, some­times dra­mat­ic lib­er­ties are war­rant­ed to get the mes­sage across.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Plympton’s self-ani­mat­ed con­tri­bu­tion is the most graph­ic, a direct descen­dent of his fab­u­lous­ly grotesque car­toon primers 25 Ways To Quit Smok­ing and How To Kiss. Moral? Assum­ing you want to keep your teeth in your head, the veg­etable mat­ter wedged in between can wait ’til you reach your des­ti­na­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wern­er Herzog’s Eye-Open­ing New Film Reveals the Dan­gers of Tex­ting While Dri­ving

Al Jaf­fee, the Longest Work­ing Car­toon­ist in His­to­ry, Shows How He Invent­ed the Icon­ic “Folds-Ins” for Mad Mag­a­zine

Read­ing While Dri­ving, Seri­ous­ly?

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky. Her plan for avoid­ing acci­dents is to refrain from dri­ving when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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