'Hell's Highway'

Documentary Tracks History of Grisly Driver Safety Films

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Promotional poster for 'Hell's Highway'

Promotional poster for Hell's Highway Courtesy Bret Wood hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Bret Wood

From the 1950s through the 1970s, millions of students in driver's education classes watched films that offered a grisly brand of highway safety education. With names like Signal 30 and Mechanized Death, these films used actual footage of bodies broken and twisted by car crashes to instill the fear of reckless road behavior into generations of drivers.

Although the films have now largely disappeared from classrooms, many of these titles are still for sale in some places, and some people today watch titles like Wheels of Tragedy and Highways of Agony as party films. A new documentary called Hell's Highway digs up the history behind these shock-value movies. For All Things Considered, NPR's Steve Inskeep speaks with the film's director, Bret Wood.

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