The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation whose primary mission is to reduce deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by:
- Setting and enforcing national safety performance standards for motor vehicles and equipment
- Providing grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs
- Marketing and promoting safety messages, campaigns and materials to various audiences aimed at raising awareness and influencing and sustaining positive traffic safety behaviors
Research has demonstrated that increasing seat belts and preventing impaired driving is the most effective means to meet NHTSA’s core mission.
NHTSA estimates that increasing seat belt use can reduce crash fatalities by up to forty-five (45%) percent in cars and sixty (60%) percent in light trucks. Every one percent increase in seat belt use translates into 2.8 million more Americans buckled up, two hundred and fifty (250) additional lives saved and four thousand (4,000) fewer serious injuries annually.
Impaired driving-related deaths account for thirty-two (32) percent of all traffic fatalities annually. Driving impaired is one of the most often committed crimes in America, affecting 1 in 3 citizens annually, resulting in 1 fatality every forty-eight (48) minutes, thirty (30) deaths every day and more than ten thousand and eight hundred (10,800) fatalities annually. Impaired motorcyclists account for twenty-nine (29) percent of all motorcyclist drivers involved in a fatality which is the single highest category of driver vehicle type involved in fatal crashes. Alcohol involvement also affected pedestrian fatalities which either for the driver or for the pedestrian was reported in forty-eight (48) percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities.
Based on over ten (10) years of research, NHTSA and its partners have determined that conducting traffic enforcement with highly visible publicity and advertising is the most effective way to influence audiences to buckle up and deter impaired driving.
NHTSA’s national communications plan supports the agency’s policy and program priorities. High visibility enforcement (HVE) for seat belt use and impaired driving prevention is the cornerstone of the national plan. NHTSA recommends that States and local communities also implement HVE as the foundation of their communications efforts and build around their key enforcement periods. Based on numerous years of experience working at the national and state levels, NHTSA has developed recommendations for communications strategy and tactical plans for state and local partners to effectively promote traffic safety year-round.
Canada was the first country in North America to demonstrate that highly publicized occupant protection enforcement increases compliance with occupant protection laws. North Carolina implemented a long-term program to increase seat belt use rates in 1994. The program was named “Click It or Ticket,” and it was the first statewide occupant protection Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) attempted in the United States. In 2001, nine States in the Southeast participated in a region-wide Click It or Ticket campaign, during which all states simultaneously undertook a five-week earned media campaign, a two-week paid media campaign beginning one week after the start of the earned media, and a two-week intensive enforcement effort beginning one week after the start of paid media. To test the success of the program, telephone surveys and observational surveys were conducted. Observations of seat belt use in the Southeastern States showed statewide increases of between 4 and 20 percentage points across the States.
In light of the success of this region-wide Click It or Ticket Mobilization, NHTSA applied the model to impaired driving, through its Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Currently, most States are using the model to support the Click It or Ticket seat belt Mobilization and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving Crackdown. Each year the Region initiates a regional safety campaign geared towards a specific traffic safety focus area. In the past years, Speeding and Drug Impaired Driving have been two of the initiatives.
The reason for the State Highway Safety Offices’ (SHSO) intensified enforcement initiatives is not to cite drivers who disobey the law, but rather, to prompt many more motor vehicle operators and passengers to use seat belts and not to drive impaired. The enforcement efforts are only fully effective when the vast majority of the States’ citizens know that the intensified enforcement will be taking place and believe that they personally will be stopped, ticketed and fined (or arrested) if they are unbelted (or impaired). Therefore, the media campaigns deliver a single message – law enforcement is cracking down – in a convincing manner, through a variety of mediums to reach the target audience(s).
To continue to make strides in these areas, public attention must continue to be focused on the horrific human and economic costs of motor vehicle crashes. Car crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for people ages 3 – 33. Children, young people and young adults are most at risk in these crashes. Effective communication must be maintained not only with the key audiences, but policy makers must also be made aware of the potential lifesaving actions they can take to alleviate these problems.
The objective of this contract is to provide communication support services for NHTSA Region 9, consisting of the following states: Arizona, California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, to support seat belt and impaired driving program efforts as well as other priority highway safety programs.
Contracting Office Address:
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, District of Columbia 20590
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