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Promoting Public Safety
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CAIT uses crash data to write, design, and distribute pedestrian and intersection public safety materials
In 2011, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) named New Jersey a pedestrian and intersection "focus state" to combat rising crash rates. This designation requires that public safety agencies dedicate special engineering, enforcement, and educational resources to reduce pedestrian and intersection crashes.
In 2013, CAIT helped revitalize FHWA's 12 Months of Safety campaign, a collection of public safety brochures that cover the emphasis areas outlined in the 2007 New Jersey Comprehensive Strategic Highway Safety Plan (CSHSP). CAIT redesigned the campaign's pedestrian and intersection safety brochures as part of its comprehensive "focus state" efforts.
The brochures feature colorful graphics and vernacular language to illustrate emotional and economic crash consequences, as opposed to crash statistics alone. CAIT used age and gender crash data to tailor brochure text to specific segments of the road user population.
The brochures also feature what psychologists refer to as "gain messages," or messages that outline positive effects of certain actions. Research shows that gain messages ("if you drive the speed limit, you will get to your destination faster") are more effective than loss messages ("if you don't wear your seatbelt, you could lose your life") when trying to change behaviors.
The campaign distribution strategy is also based on research. Using crash data from Plan4Safety, CAIT developed a methodology that identified areas with the highest rates of pedestrian and intersection crashes. These rates were compared against factors like roadway geography and population.
That's not all: research suggests that when a person receives information, a "frame of reference" helps to make it more impactful. This means that a person will pay more attention to messages related to where they are at the moment; for example, a person is more likely to pay attention to a message about pedestrian safety when they are in an area where they will need to cross the street.
The CAIT team identified restaurants and retail businesses in high-risk locations where there are more intersections and more pedestrians by design, like downtown or urban areas. Working directly with local businesses, the pedestrian and intersection safety brochures were displayed near cash registers or on dining tables where pedestrians and motorists were more likely to see them.
The team expects that the affective language, coupled with a frame of reference, will help reduce crashes in these high-risk areas and create a gradual, long-term effect on driving and road use behaviors. Currently, the brochures can be found in businesses in Atlantic City, Wildwood, Long Branch, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, New Brunswick, Piscataway, Passaic, Essex Fells, and Weehawken. Select NJ Transit rail stations along the New Jersey coast are also carrying the material.
The effectiveness of the campaign will be evaluted with crash data, business owner feedback, and website analytics. To request copies of the brochures, please contact Janet Hansen at email@example.com or download brochure PDFs at cait.rutgers.edu/tsrc/traffic-safety.
12 Months of Safety was developed with support from FHWA and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. All data from Plan4Safety, online crash analysis software developed by CAIT.