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|Conduct Media and Outreach Activities
To achieve the ultimate goal of reducing injuries and deaths resulting from aggressive driving, public awareness must be raised concerning enforcement efforts. Despite the number of drivers issued citations or arrested, the only people aware of this activity are usually the ones being arrested or receiving the citations. Most of the motoring public, some of whom are violating the law, are usually not aware that enforcement activities are taking place. This is why it is a good idea to publicize the enforcement effort to the maximum extent possible. When quality public information and education are conducted in concert with enforcement, awareness is heightened, voluntary compliance increases, and the deterrent effects are stronger. Recognition leads to solutions.
Increase perception of risk - By introducing timely public information through the media which support enforcement activities, drivers will have a greater "perception of risk." This perception sends the message that a substantial risk exists of being cited, of being arrested, of paying a fine, of being injured while driving aggressively. As a result, more drivers are encouraged to comply with traffic laws. Voluntary compliance with traffic laws reduces motor vehicle crashes. In addition, the public awareness effort itself may also change attitudes and, in turn, lead to improved driving behaviors.
To maximize the "perception of risk," it is important to establish a unique program identity. The program should be outlined to the media, with an explanation of why the program is necessary, what the desired outcome is, and what method is being used to attain the programs goals. To be most effective, publicity about aggressive driver program activities should be provided to all forms of the media including print, radio, and television.
Tip line - Consider the use of a "tip line" to get the public to report aggressive drivers. That, in turn, helps law enforcement officers. In addition, when people in the community call in, they feel they are contributing to the solution of a problem.
News releases - Media should be supplied with news releases that contain accurate information describing aggressive driving enforcement activities. Written news releases provide a permanent record of enforcement activities, highlight upcoming events, and eliminate communication errors between media and program participants. News releases should be given to the media three or four working days before aggressive driver activities are to take place. This should be used to announce upcoming events, provide basic background information, deliver official statements on the involvement of enforcement agencies, and announce news conferences. The news releases should include the names of appropriate departmental personnel who will be available to provide further information.
Post-activity news releases should always be used. At the conclusion of an aggressive driving patrol, the coordinator should tabulate program activities, and deliver the complete results to the various news sources. They should contain:
Speakers bureau - Start a speakers bureau. Provide community partners with a stock speech and materials to adapt to specific audiences. Law enforcement agencies need to be prepared with videotapes, print materials, a speakers kit and other readily available resources to help judges and others speak in the community.
News conferences - News conferences can be used to kick-off the enforcement program and to announce results periodically during the campaign. Agency personnel should be present to deliver the message and answer follow-up questions. Organized and well-managed news conferences project a positive image of the program. Invite all of the community partners, such as participating law enforcement agencies, a wide range of local government and community leaders, victims, and members of the health care community to attend the news conference.
The community partners should be briefed on the status of the program and be prepared to answer questions concerning their involvement. In addition to discussing the data and other successes, tell the public that they need to do their part in resolving this problem by not driving aggressively.
Ride-alongs - During aggressive driving patrols, ride-alongs for media representatives may encourage additional news coverage. The "on-the-scene story" can add a new dimension to the program with reporters providing first-hand information. Reporters participating in "ride-alongs" must have permission from both their news agencies and the law enforcement agency involved, and must clearly understand law enforcement guidelines. Law enforcement officers selected as ride-along representatives for the aggressive driving patrol should be briefed in advance and feel comfortable with being observed by the media and responding to their inquires. The agency representative should serve as a good role model, e.g., wear a seat belt and insist the reporter do so as well. Select an articulate officer who is a positive representative of the enforcement agency.
Live coverage - Managing and coordinating media in live situations is extremely critical. Done properly, this type of coverage may provide several benefits, including:
By coordinating these various media activities, law enforcement participants generate additional news coverage surrounding their aggressive driving patrols including: pre-activity news releases and news conferences, live and remote coverage at the time of the activities, and post-news releases following the activities. In addition, law enforcement agencies can do their part to increase the visibility of the program by conducting enforcement operations in high-visibility areas, during rush hours, on weekends when news coverage is more likely, using unique equipment to catch the interest of the public, and using officers in a team approach enforcement effort.