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Controversial Zero Fatalities ad highlights another reason to buckle up

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Posted at 11:45 AM, Feb 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-03 14:37:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Transportation and the Zero Fatalities campaign hope their new "Twist" ad will encourage more people to use seat belts.

The ad was unveiled Sunday on FOX 13 during Super Bowl XLVIII. (Use the video player above to watch it.)

At the beginning of the ad, a young boy appears to be asleep in a car seat. As the camera zooms away, the viewer learns the boy was killed when an unbuckled parent flew into the back seat of the car after a collision.

"Being unbuckled increases the risk of injury or death to other passengers by 40%," according to the ad.

John Gleason from the Utah Department of Transportation and Sgt. Todd Royce from the Utah Highway Patrol came to the FOX 13 Studio Monday morning to talk about the ad, its message and the reactions people have had to it. (scroll to the bottom of this post to watch their appearance on FOX 13's Good Day Utah)

"Our hope is that this is going to spark a conversation and maybe [...] motivate someone who doesn't typically wear their seat belt to start buckling up," Gleason said. "This commercial demonstrates that there are very real consequences to other people in the car. If you're not buckled up, you can act as a projectile."

The ad drew a mixed reaction from people who left comments on the FOX 13 News Facebook page Monday morning.

"My daughter was completely traumatized by that commercial! What a horrible thing to watch during what is supposed to be a "fun" game!," one commenter wrote.

Others called the ad "upsetting" and "disgusting."

Gleason admits the ad is hard-hitting and he sympathizes with people who were watching the game with young children, but emphasized the importance of communication among family members  about car safety.

"That's what we're hoping for here is that this is going to create a conversation within the family and maybe a new way to look at buckling up - that it's not just affecting you," Gleason said. "It affects everyone else in your vehicle and then everyone else out on the road. If you're thrown from your seat and you can't control your car, that becomes a huge danger to everyone else."

Other online commenters appreciated the message.

"It never occurred to me that an unbuckled person could kill someone by "flying" through the car and I'm sorry if anyone had to relive a tragedy like that, but if it saves any lives, it was worth it," a commenter on the Zero Fatalities Facebook page said. "I have grandchildren now and, like I said, I had not realized they could die that way in an accident."

Sgt. Royce said, as a law enforcement officer, he sees the effects of not buckling up first-hand.

"It affects everybody," Royce said. "We need to have everybody buckled up in those cars."

Click here to leave your comments on the Zero Fatalities Facebook page.

Video: UDOT's John Gleason and UHP's Sgt. Todd Royce talk about Zero Fatalities "Twist" ad: