New conversations about speed
Submission Date: 2013
As part of New Zealand’s 10 year road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, people need help to understand the benefits of travelling at safer speeds. From surveys of vehicle speeds and of public attitudes to road safety, the majority of road users broadly recognise the risks of speeding and support enforcement of the speed limit. However, speed-related crashes remain a significant part of the road toll, and a significant percentage of vehicles continue to exceed posted speed limits. In summary, many people do not put their understanding of speed risk into practice. In a safe system, road users have greater understanding of human vulnerability and the strong link between speeds and serious trauma, and greater tolerance towards other users’ mistakes. Target audience research, through individual and group interviews, advertising concept tests, and attitude surveys, reveals the messages from safety agencies are disconnected from the views of their audiences. This paper discusses a new approach in New Zealand which attempts to engage with the driving public in the same conversational space that they themselves talk and think about speed. Two recent pieces of advertising communication will be presented, addressing human vulnerability in crashes, and driving attitudes which encourage tolerance. A key measure is the level and change in public conversations about road safety and speed, obtained using social media analytical tools. The results so far will include public reaction and attitude shifts, changes in the language and content of social media conversations, and changes if any in observed speeds and crash rates.