Social media has become a vital tool for road safety campaigns
Social media “dependency” is growing every day. Australian road safety organisations are switching on and embracing this tool, to increase reach, target specific demographics and deliver powerful messages to a captive audience.
Creating “real life” scenarios that promote safe driving practices, such as “slow down” or “don’t drink and drive”, have traditionally been delivered through main stream media outlets. This trend is changing.
Why are road safety authorities using social media?
When one looks at the statistics, a high proportion of young drivers are involved in road traffic accidents or incidents. All too often, these accidents end in serious injury or tragedy. Young drivers are undoubtedly connected to social media and it is this medium many state and regional road safety authorities are turning to.
Interactive road safety campaigns
Interactive campaigns are targeting young women, to encourage them to share messaging via social, with their close friends and loved ones.
Online messaging and tag lines like “I’d hate to plan your funeral. #slowdown” and campaigns such as the TAC’s ‘Make a Film, Make a Difference’ competition, invited young filmmakers to write a short film that encourages young people to think about their attitudes to driving and to look out for their mates.
One of the winning films – “there’s no place like home safe“, was used to show what the aftermath of a fatal high speed accident looks like. This type of hard hitting message aims to make an impact on young drivers, that will make them think twice before speeding or drink driving.
Most of these types of campaigns target young men. Simply because the accident rate among this demographic is extremely high, and disproportionate to other driver age groups.
Whatever the reason causing a high rate of accidents among young Australian males, education is certainly key. Safe driving habits for young people are important to encourage, and social media is a powerful tool impacting this necessary change.
By engaging with young drivers via social media, and by encouraging sharing, campaigns become more effective. As messages are often delivered via a friend of the same age group, this builds awareness. This has a far greater influence when compared to the same message coming from an adult or parent, or via traditional media such as TV, radio or print.
Unsafe loads campaign
There is more to road safety than speeding or drink driving. It is important to create awareness of other “real issues” that take up the valuable resources of traffic police and transport or road safety agencies. Irresponsible loading of combis, utes and flatbed trucks is another serious issue, that can lead to tragic consequences on the roads.
Many of us often watch humorous short clips on social media or TV shows, that show how some vehicles are overloaded and lead to a spate of “funny” outcomes. Normally these types of clips come from other countries where road safety is low on the list of priorities and are common place.
Some state Police authorities have turned to social media to encourage other drivers to take pictures of poorly loaded vehicles, and to share those using simple hashtags. In N.S.W, for example, the use of #loadfail has been deemed a great success and has led to a very large following.
Social media has increased participation of the public in road safety
As Police resources are stretched at the best of times, by recruiting the help of the public in bringing unsafe driving practices to the attention of authorities, is a valuable asset and tool.
The sharing of pictures or video of dangerous driving practices and situations is no different to someone witnessing a violent assault or other serious crime. The after effect of someone driving with an unsafe load can have serious consequences for many lives, this is the message the authorities are trying to deliver.
Participation of the public is important. Through the use of mobile phone technology, subtle hashtags, and social media channels, the public are assisting the authorities to encourage and enforce better road safety environments for all drivers. The majority of cases followed up by Police come from this valuable interaction with the public and it is achieving positive results in the community.
Social media plays an important role by assisting the authorities in keeping the roads and highways safe, which in turn creates a safer driving experience for the public driving their cars everyday.
This is an important partnership – and social media has become a complimentary and essential tool for successful road safety campaigns of the future.