On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the results of a 2008 survey which found that that seat belt use has reached 85% among U.S. adults. Only 11% wore them in 1982, which was prior to the first state law requiring seat belt use.
Additional research released by CDC showed that non-fatal vehicle crash injuries reduced by more than 15% between 2001 and 2009, which can be partly attributed to increased seat belt use. These results showed that the U.S. is making progress in the six “winnable battles” in public health that CDC identified in 2010, one of which is motor vehicle injuries.
Along with the laws enacted, several major social marketing campaigns have contributed to this major public behavior change—even though it was over the span of 26 years, 74% is still a huge number!
In 1985, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Ad Council launched the Safety Belt Education campaign featuring Vince and Larry, two crash test dummies that reminded Americans that “You can learn a lot from a dummy!” In the first six years of the campaign (which was retired in 1999), PSAs garnered more than $337 million in donated media time and space. More recently, Vince and Larry were donated to the Smithsonian Institution and are now part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History. Here’s a look at one of the old PSAs: Game Show.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket campaign has a catchy name and a simple message. Their primary audience is men ages 18-34, the least likely population segment to wear seat belts. Each year, law enforcement agencies nationwide join forces around Memorial Day for an enforcement blitz which is supported by national and local paid advertising and earned media campaigns.
NHTSA also has a Buckle Up America campaign, which reminders drivers and passengers to “Buckle Up America. Every Trip. Every Time.”
Can you think of any memorable social marketing campaigns that encourage safe driving? I focused on seat belt use, but what about drunk/drugged driving and distracted driving?