If watching car crashes is your idea of fun – and as the innumerable traffic jams on I-95 confirm, it’s a favorite hobby of many drivers – then Hell’s Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films will be right up your carnage-loving alley. A comprehensive history of the highway safety films forced upon high school teenagers from 1959-1979, Bret Wood’s documentary spends an inordinate amount of time replaying grisly clips from classic educational films such as Signal 30 and Mechanized Death. As this frequently fascinating film elucidates, the highway safety movement phenomenon was sparked by Dick Wayman, a Mansfield, Ohio volunteer who believed the most effective way to teach impressionable kids about the rules of the road was to scare the living bejesus out of them. The result was scores of brutally graphic short films in which the camera longingly gazed at corpses or recorded injured people being rescued from their destroyed vehicles while screaming in agony. Wood attempts to evenhandedly examine this strange social movement, enlisting both Wayman’s former colleagues to opine about their works’ effectiveness and cult film experts to weigh in on the films’ origins and impact. The filmmaker astutely identifies how these auto-instructive movies projected Middle American adults’ fears and anxiety – about the unstable post-WWII social order, drinking and driving, and sexual promiscuity – onto kids. Yet any criticism levied against Wayman’s death-obsessed creations (which likely traumatized young drivers but did little to dissuade them from behaving recklessly behind the wheel) is drowned out by the director’s incessant, pornographic use of death-and-dismemberment clips from these ghastly films. By reveling in horrifying images of unspeakable bloodshed as a means of titillating its audience, Hell’s Highway winds up functioning no differently than the disgraceful, despicable films it scrutinizes.