Safety Communications

RELATED TOPICS: Vision Zero

The goal of most traffic safety campaigns is to motivate roadway users to adopt safer behaviors (e.g., driving at a safer speed, yielding to pedestrians, wearing safety equipment, etc.). Analysis of crash data and other safety assessments, observational studies, or community feedback help identify community traffic safety problems. This information helps inform the design of campaign messages and methods of communication. Most safety problems cannot be addressed by campaigns alone. Ideally, safety campaigns should accompany and bolster infrastructure improvements, policy changes, or enforcement efforts to address safety problems. Research suggests that one of the most promising ways to reach and engage intended audiences is to work with people who exert social influence in the community to relay simple, practical, health protective information.

Campaign messages should be framed to motivate road users to take self protection action for a specific reason (e.g., to safely return to one's family), repeated often, and distributed to audiences in culturally appropriate ways (e.g., translating campaign materials into communities' primary languages, speaking to communities' values of concern for themselves, their family, and friends). Local partnerships provide expertise and knowledge in framing campaign messages. Traffic safety communication and outreach could take a variety of forms depending on the message and intended audience, including direct contact with community influencers (as mentioned above), traditional mass media, social media, or presentations to community groups, public events, and others.

Resources

Road Safety Campaigns: What the Research Tells Us provides an overview of theory-informed road safety campaigns, along with example evaluations of campaigns related to drunk and distracted driving, seatbelt use, speeding, and bicyclists and pedestrians.

National Cooperative Highway Research Program's Report 622, Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety Countermeasures guides state and local transportation officials in selecting and designing traffic safety campaigns that have the greatest potential for the reduction of highway death and injury.

Trends and Lessons on Public Education for New Infrastructure provides an overview of current trends and common pitfalls associated with educational resources for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

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Examples

Effective Communication Message Strategy for Enhancing Traffic Safety in Fresno County: The Role of Time Horizon, Regulatory Focus, and Perceived Personal Control examines the role of perceived personal control on drivers' and pedestrians' behavioral intentions to adopt safe transportation practices in Fresno County CA, finding that messages which use time-expansive and promotion-focused framing seem to be more effective at inducing intentions to walk and drive safely.

Evaluating Sustained Enforcement, Education, and Engineering Measures on Pedestrian Crossings evaluates and expands upon St. Paul, Minnesota's "Stop for Me" campaign. This multifaceted approach includes social norming.

Watch for Me NC includes media marketing messages, among other strategies, for a statewide pedestrian and bicycle safety program in North Carolina.

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