Mel Gibson, where are you?

The Utah Department of Transportation is having a car fixed up so it looks similar to those you drove in the trio of "Road Warrior" movies, the ones where your Mad Max character battled marauding bands of nuclear-war survivors.But forget about post-war confrontations with mutants in a bleak futuristic environment. The only nasty types you'll have to encounter in our pretty, great state are litterers.

UDOT and the advertising agency handling the campaign, Fotheringham & Associates, believe the 18- to 24-year-old men who toss their trash while driving will identify with a good-looking, macho guy like you.

Really, you'd be perfect for UDOT's new anti-litter campaign kicking off sometime next month with a television commercial aimed at the state's worst group of litterers.

Just in case you're not available, though, a casting call is going out this week for the star of the series of three television commercials that will be filmed over the next three years.

Known only as the "Road Warrior," the star will drive a '69 Chevy Malibu that is being ripped apart and rebuilt into what Bruce Jensen, president of Fotheringham & Associates termed, "a mean road machine."

In the first television commercial, due to debut mid-April, the Road Warrior will be tooling down a scenic southern Utah road with a friend and a dog. All is peaceful as they travel to the beat of an as-yet unwritten rock tune.

But the calm is broken when the passenger tosses a can out his window. Suddenly, the car is thrown into reverse. Tires squeal. The trash is retrieved. The passenger is tossed out by the driver. The car speeds off.

The message? "Here's a guy who's street tough, hardened, not a wimp by any means. Yet he sees no value in wasting the environment," Jensen said. Cue the campaign slogan: "Don't waste Utah."

The slogan was chosen to appeal to younger ears that might hear a different meaning in the word, "waste." Besides to throw away, kids sometimes use the term "wasted" to refer to a drunken or drugged state.

Jensen said he is resigned to some viewers being offended by the ad because of its off-beat feel. But that's the very reason he believes it will reach its ntended audience.

"All of us, when we go through youth, are anti-social," Jensen said. He also points out that pains are being taken not to portray the Road Warrior as drinking and driving, or behaving in any other dangerous manner.

Besides, Fotheringham & Associates is no stranger to controversy. It was behind the, "Pretty, Great State" campaign designed to promote Utah to Utahns that caused more than a few residents to question its purpose.

UDOT has budgeted $150,000 annually over the next three years for the anti-litter campaign, which will also include billboards and promotions featuring the car that will appear in the commercials.