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Worth the Risk? (1948)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The operations of an emergency telephone exchange and ambulance service are explained. Women operating the switchboard relay information about reported accidents to the ambulance service. Within minutes of receiving a call about an accident on Shoreditch Road, an ambulance is driving at full throttle towards the scene. A queue of commuters wait nonchalantly at a bus-stop, while in another part of London a crowd is congregated around a female blonde-haired casualty lying prostrate on the road.

A series of careless incidents by pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are accompanied by images of road safety posters and copies of the Highway Code: a young boy runs onto road in front of a car; a middle-aged woman meanders between buses on busy main road; a man in a raincoat steps off the pavement, narrowly escaping a collision with a cyclist; a tipsy man exits a pub and starts his car in the wrong gear, nearly knocking over a pedestrian; a child chases a ball into the road, to the sound of screeching car brakes; a cyclist riding with faulty brakes hits the back of a lorry and falls off his bike.

Commuter Mr Smith says goodbye to his wife and daughter before driving to work. It is a 40-minute run, but Mr Smith, knowing the route like the back of his hand, cuts a few corners and does it in 30 minutes. Mr Smith's morning routine is repeated - he kisses his wife goodbye and drives to work, taking the bends wide, until one morning he has to swerve to avoid an oncoming lorry. City worker Miss Jones' motto to 'keep on walking, they always stop' costs her dearly when she encounters Mr Williams, whose car brakes aren't working well. Another fatal collision.

Back at the emergency telephone exchange, an administrator flicks through a pile of accident reports. The last page is blank. An anonymous man, bored by the road safety film, gets up and exits the cinema. Convinced that 'accidents only happen to other people', he walks smugly out of view into the road. The sound of the screeching of brakes is heard over an image of a 'Get Home Safe and Sound' poster.