Public safety campaigns are important. They are important because getting people to change their behavior when it comes to risky activities takes concerted effort on multiple levels. Law enforcement alone, as important as it is, isn’t always enough. It’s also necessary to educate people about the consequences of not changing the behavior.
Consider the case of Chicago pedestrian accidents. In October 2011, the Chicago Department of Transportation began a citywide pedestrian safety campaign. CDOT partnered with the Chicago Police Department and the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the initiative.
The goal was to reduce Chicago car accidents that kill or injure pedestrians. The campaign began in vivid fashion with the placement of 32 mannequins along Wacker Drive. Each mannequin represented one of the 32 people killed in Chicago pedestrian crashes in 2010.
The campaign also featured posters. Most of them were placed on the sides of trash or recycling containers on the street. Many of those posters have stark images depicting accident victims. They are not real victims, but rather actors portraying victims. Still, the effect of the posters is sobering and even depressing.
One poster shows a man in a hospital bed, covered with bandages. Another one features a graphic image of a car crash in which someone’s body appears to bounce off the broken windshield of the car that just struck the victim.
The text that goes along with the posters tries to foster compassion with messages like, “This could be your brother.”
Some Chicagoans have said the posters are too depressing. Reasonable minds can differ about that. What’s undeniably true is that Chicago pedestrian accidents need to be reduced.
Source: “Are Chicago’s pedestrian safety campaign posters too depressing? Grid Chicago, 1-11-12
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