View Full Version : Blood On The Windscreen - Vintage Driver Education Films

Andrew Monroe
01-14-2013, 01:20 PM
The author of this booklet posted this at the CHFB, I know there are some fans of these disturbing and graphic films here - me too - it's only 6 bucks at Amazon. Perfect timing too, I have been thinking about watching some of these again. That HELL'S HIGHWAY set is awesome!

by John Harrison

Blood on the Windscreen takes us on a gaudy journey through one of the most foreboding of all film genres: the Driver’s Education film.

Shown in classrooms across America, the Driver’s Education film hit its peak in the early-1960s, when the notorious Ohio based company, Highway Safety Films, Inc., began producing a series of in...credibly graphic and unnerving 16mm shorts that showed young high school kids no mercy as it attempted to curb the slaughter that was taking place on American freeways.

Featuring a history of the genre, a look into the sordid underbelly of Highway Safety Films, Inc., and an interview with Bret Wood (director of the classic documentary on the subject, Hell’s Highway), Blood on the Windscreen is your perfect (shattered) window into this unique and disturbing era of classroom education.

Blood on the Windscreen is published - suitably enough - in the style and format of a vintage educational booklet from the 1960s, and is available for a measly $6.00.



Horace Cordier
01-14-2013, 02:16 PM
For a man who doesn't even know how to drive I have an unhealthy fascination with this stuff.

Ordered sight unseen!

Funny how I just watched DEATH IN SMALL DOSES and the opening with the hopped up trucker reminded me of this genre.

I also have a beautiful art book called "Car Crashes And Other Sad Stories" by German publisher Taschen that is an incredible document of this era. Shot in searing deep-focus black and white, photographer Mell Kilpatrick shoots the aftermath of these horrifying accidents with great precision.

The period detail is fascinating - road side diner signs, the primitive ambulances and the plainclothes police in their sober 40's and 50's suits.

But it is the graphic shots of the aftermath of the fatal crashes that haunt - the contorted bodies and the utter stillness of the dead. You also realize 2 things - speed really does kill and cars used to be total death traps - these boats with their deadly steering columns and puny seat belts (if they even had them at all).

Ian Jane
01-14-2013, 02:28 PM
When I learned to drive these were still being shown, by the time my sister took her driver's ed classes two years later, they'd been pulled.

I don't remember the specific title but there was one that stuck in my head. A friend and I were in the class and watching this hokey thing play out in front of us. A trucker gets behind the wheel of his rig and the narrator notes that at that moment 'death was driving down the highway' - which we thought was hysterical. The plot continues and the trucker falls asleep at the wheel, at which point the movie cut to the real life footage of an accident where a giant truck had demolished a car and its occupants, all too real. It wasn't so funny at that point and it definitely took us by surprise.

Horace Cordier
01-14-2013, 03:27 PM
I'm not nearly as amused by the hyperbolic narrations and period slang when I view these things anymore. These films fascinate me as period artifacts and yes a testament to the terrifying vulnerability of the human body.

Andrew Monroe
01-14-2013, 03:28 PM
I saw these in school, man, I can still remember a girl in my class literally getting hysterical during one that had some really graphic footage. She wasn't just crying, she was wailing...it was pretty upsetting just being in the room with her. And some of the assholes in class were laughing at her.

That book sounds fascinating, Horace. There's something that gets under my skin about those black and white photos and films of crime scenes or wrecks. Haunting in a way that more graphic color footage isn't.

Andrew Monroe
01-14-2013, 03:37 PM
I don't recall the name of the film, but one of those on the HELL'S HIGHWAY set was blackly humorous. This drunk guy was driving along and had his door open kinda hanging halfway out of it in a field and ran slam into a tree. The door jamb just smashed the hell out of him. It's not funny he died but really, what a dumbass.

Todd Jordan
01-14-2013, 05:09 PM
I find any of those scare films to be fascinating and entertaining, but I am not too keen on the real death footage. But I can watch it now whereas I couldn't watch it a few years ago. Getting older and more tolerant maybe?

Newt Cox
01-14-2013, 08:43 PM
They were still showing these in 1990 when I took driver's ed.

Ian Jane
01-20-2013, 03:07 PM
My driver's ed class would have been 91. My sisters was 93. Somewhere in there they stopped showing them in Canada.

Ordered the book on Friday, should have it Tues. or Wednesday - go Amazon Prime go!

Newt Cox
01-21-2013, 06:47 AM
Yeah I think the year I saw them was the last year they were shown in MS. But then MS is pretty backwoods.

Andrew Monroe
01-21-2013, 10:31 AM
I got mine last week. Haven't had a chance to read it in full yet but at a cursory look it seems very interesting. There are capsule reviews of a bunch of the driver's ed shorts and an interview with the director of the documentary on them, HELL'S HIGHWAY (which you should own if you're interested in this stuff).

Ian Jane
01-23-2013, 10:17 AM
Got mine yesterday, read through the first half. The reviews are handy.

John Harrison
01-30-2013, 03:29 PM
Thanks to the original poster for sharing this - I am the author of Blood on the Windscreen and hope anyone who orders it will enjoy it.

A little background: Blood on the Windscreen was originally written as a chapter for a proposed UK book an editor friend of mine was putting together. When the book project fell through, I was sitting on the driver's ed piece for a while and decided to self-publish it as a little booklet, mainly to test the self-publising waters for future (more in-depth) projects, and also because I am just a huge fan of the driver's ed genre (although 'fan' might be the wrong word - but I am certainly fascinated and haunted by them, and find their history and production details very interesting).

Ian Jane
01-30-2013, 03:55 PM
Hi John - finished my copy last week and found it a pretty interesting read. Can't blame you for doing the mini-book thing. And I hear you on the 'fan' of driver's ed tag. Sounds morbid. But there's definitely a whole lot to find interesting about these movies.

Andrew Monroe
01-30-2013, 05:24 PM
I did finish mine too and found it well written and very interesting. I hope it's a success for you, John. I need to track down THE THIRD KILLER, that one sounds sooo bizarre! Maybe "fan" doesn't sound right but there's no denying the fascination these films hold - some of those other public safety films (LSD, STDs, etc) are weird and worth exploring as well, like the stuff on the Educational Archives dvds.

John Harrison
02-01-2013, 07:39 PM
Thanks! Yes THE THIRD KILLER is definately one of the offbeat highlights of the genre - it's available on Something Weird's DRIVER'S ED SCARE FILMS VOL 6. I also highly recommend Bret Wood's HELL'S HIGHWAY documentary.

Horace Cordier
02-01-2013, 07:58 PM
I picked up the book too John - it's great. Loved the handy review guide in the back. I keep my copy of it nice and flat in the middle of my CAR CRASHES AND OTHER SAD STORIES book!

You ought to get a cut from Something Weird since I plumped out for their Driver's Ed mega set after reading WINDSCREEN.

TEENICIDE and THE THIRD KILLER are really fascinating and THE LAST PROM was oddly haunting. I'm steeling myself for the one by the Suicide Club - have to make sure I haven't eaten recently.

Ian Jane
06-10-2013, 11:04 AM
John Harrison has a top 5 Driver's Ed Horror's list up at Fangoria today.