4.7 University Educational Campaign
Overall Effectiveness Concerns: This countermeasure has not been systematically examined. There are insufficient evaluation data available to conclude that the countermeasure is effective.
Frequently, university settings are areas of high pedestrian concentrations. This, combined with a younger age population who frequently take more risks as both pedestrians and drivers, may result in increased pedestrian crashes on roads around and through a campus setting (Zegeer et al., 2008). At the same time, a university campus may offer an opportune setting to reach a well-defined target audience of drivers and pedestrians about the risks of unsafe behaviors. A study conducted in 2013 in the urban community around the Johns Hopkins medical center campus examined knowledge of pedestrian-related laws, perceptions of pedestrian safety problems, and perceptions of the effectiveness of interventions. This survey was part of a larger campaign called “Be Alert: Don’t Get Hurt” (Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, 2015). Study participants included students, faculty, and campus staff, as well as residents in the surrounding areas. Most were drivers, while only 19.1% were pedestrians. Less than half the respondents were aware of laws and penalties related to “jaywalking," and less than 6% were aware that pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way in a crosswalk. More pedestrians preferred longer signal crossing times, and more drivers supported structural interventions that prevented midblock pedestrian incursions (Nesoff et al., 2019). These findings point a need for more educational campaigns on pedestrian safety laws and road rules.
Fall of a new academic year may be a good time to reach new students, faculty, and staff who may be less familiar with walking and driving in the campus environment. Activities may need to be repeated several times a year for maximal effect, during higher risk times such as in the fall as day length shortens, and again in spring as the weather warms and jogging and other outdoor activities may increase. Potential educational messages may include right-of-way rules and the importance of yielding right-of-way (pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers), being visible and predictable at both day and night times and during inclement weather (pedestrians and bicyclists), making eye contact at conflict points (pedestrians and drivers), avoiding distractions (pedestrians and drivers), and speed control (drivers and potentially bicyclists) (Zegeer et al., 2008). Partnerships may include campus public safety offices, student health and wellness programs, city/county public safety agencies, injury prevention agencies, parking and transportation services, transit agencies, and student groups. There may be academic or research units on campus that could also help with developing a campus campaign.
Use: Some universities conduct some form of outreach or have pedestrian safety campaigns. The University of North Carolina combines educational outreach with targeted crosswalk enforcement to remind both motorists and pedestrians of safe yielding behaviors, but the program effects have not been evaluated. The John Hopkins University Arts and Sciences campus developed a comprehensive intervention based on focus groups, university crash reports, and an environmental audit. The intervention was framed by the three Es of education, enforcement, and engineering. Based on its research, it increased enforcement at busy intersections, included pedestrian safety education as part of new student orientation, and increased signage to remind both drivers and pedestrians of the laws and safe behaviors (Pollack et al., 2014). The effectiveness of this program has not been evaluated.
Effectiveness: No studies of crash effects are known. The University of South Florida at Tampa conducted a one-week campaign in the fall that began with campus administrators, local agencies, and elected officials leading a “parade” walk around campus. Over 4 days there were lectures on walking and biking safely (WalkWise and Bike Smart), and posters and booklets with walking and biking rules were distributed across campus. The campaign ended with a bicycle celebration event. Zhang et al. (2013) reported some improvement in observed safety behaviors, most notably at locations closest to a student center where many activities took place. They also noted, however, that all groups (drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists) self-reported better behavior than was observed in the field, and that there were differences in perceptions of the interactions among the groups. For example, drivers thought they yielded more frequently to pedestrians than pedestrians thought they did, and vice versa.
Effectiveness is likely to be increased when education is combined with appropriate infrastructure to facilitate safer interactions.
Costs: Costs vary depending on the activities implemented, but could include costs for events and material. The well-identified campus environment and potential campus partners are characteristics that provide an opportunity to lower and/or share costs when compared to other similar types of educational campaigns in a broader community.
Time to Implement: The timeline may be short once problem identification and program development has occurred. Time should be allowed to gather campus community input and to develop and test material that resonates with the campus community.