Notes of Guidance
Advertisements should not contribute to a culture of dangerous, irresponsible or inconsiderate driving or motorcycling, especially among young drivers.
“Motoring advertisements” are broadcast advertisements for vehicles or other automotive products; for example, tyres, fuel or car accessories. These rules do not apply to public service advertisements about road safety.
Rules for all advertisements:
20.1 Advertisements must not condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving or motorcycling. Advertisements must not suggest that driving or motorcycling safely is staid or boring.
Driving shown on public roads should comply with the current requirements of the Highway Code.
The rule does not discount the use of off-road locations to demonstrate specific features of a car, provided the location is clearly not a public road e.g. a test track or airfield.
Driving sequences which are clearly fantastical and which show driving practices that are unlikely to be achievable are usually acceptable.
The ASA has ruled in this area. Links to sample rulings can be found below:
20.2 Advertisements must not condone or encourage a breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code.
Drivers and all passengers should be shown wearing seatbelts. Exceptions may be made when advertisements show cars that were manufactured without seatbelts. Showing drivers and passengers without seatbelts is likely to be acceptable e.g. when vehicles are clearly parked and the engine is not running or when the vehicle is obviously not on a public highway. Clearcast may also accept advertisements in foreign settings showing passengers not wearing seatbelts in vehicles that do not have them fitted.
In all circumstances, children should be shown wearing seatbelts. Children under 135cm tall or under the age of 12 must be shown using the correct car seat for their weight.
Rules for motoring advertisements:
20.3 Motoring advertisements must not demonstrate power, acceleration or handling characteristics except in a clear context of safety. Reference to those characteristics must not suggest excitement, aggression or competitiveness.
The ASA has ruled in this area. Sample rulings can be found here:
20.4 Motoring advertisements must not refer to speed in a way that might condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving or motorcycling. Factual statements about a vehicle’s speed or acceleration are permissible but must not be presented as a reason for preferring the advertised vehicle. Speed or acceleration claims must not be the main selling message of an ad.
Cars should not be shown driving at high speed or obviously over the speed limit. Great care is needed over sound effects and engine noises may need to be toned down. Sound effects that are indicative of high speed e.g. screeching should not be included and driving should not be presented as exhilarating or exciting. Unless it is on a race track, driving should not be shown as competitive.
20.5 Motoring advertisements must not exaggerate the benefit of safety features to consumers or suggest that a vehicle’s features enable it to be driven or ridden faster or in complete safety.