Skip to main content
You can also sort pages by filters.
Table of Contents
Download the Full Book

Effectiveness: 3 Star Cost: Varies
Use: Medium
Time: Medium

Effective, high-visibility communications and outreach are essential parts of successful speed and aggressive-driving enforcement programs (Neuman et al., 2003; NHTSA, 2000). All examples discussed in the Speeding and Speed Management chapter, Sections 2.2, High-Visibility Enforcement, and 2.3, Other Enforcement Methods, used extensive communications campaigns to support their enforcement efforts. Most campaigns to date have not used paid advertising. The success of paid advertising in seat belt use campaigns (the Seat Belts and Child Restraints chapter, Section 3.1) suggests that it is worth considering for speed and aggressive driving enforcement campaigns.

The objective should be to provide information about the program, including expected safety benefits, and to persuade motorists that detection and punishment for violations is likely. See also Neuman et al. (2003, Strategy A2). Communications and outreach programs urging drivers to behave courteously or not to speed are unlikely to have any effect unless they are tied to vigorous enforcement (Neuman et al., 2003, Strategy A2). Campaign messages that are pre-tested to ensure they are relevant to the target audience and that reach the audience with sufficient intensity and duration to be perceived and noticed are most likely to be effective (Preusser et al., 2008). Other State and community partners may also help leverage resources and achieve a wider reach if they have common goals and concerns (GHSA, 2018b).

An assessment report prepared for the Governors Highway Safety Association also recommends raising the priority of speed enforcement as a traffic safety priority among LEAs, the general public, and the courts (Sprattler, 2012). Such an effort may require careful framing of the message that speed enforcement is a public injury prevention strategy. Health Resources in Action developed community resources for the CDC highlighting injury-reduction and public health and community livability issues in relation to speed and speed management (Health Resources in Action, 2013; and other resources available at

Use: Most aggressive driving and speed enforcement programs have a communications and outreach component. At least half the States have a named public awareness campaign (Sprattler, 2012).

Effectiveness: A meta-analysis of 67 worldwide studies of the effect of road safety campaigns on crashes suggests a general campaign effect of 9%; however, anti-drunk-driving campaigns were considerably more effective than anti-speeding campaigns (Phillips et al., 2011). Other evidence comes from publicity associated with automated enforcement programs. Reductions in crashes in Victoria, Australia, have been attributed to a television advertising campaign that supported, but did not relate directly, to automated speed enforcement initiatives (Bobevski et al., 2007). A study from Charlotte, NC also found that publicity from an aggressive media outreach campaign and on-going publicity related to automated enforcement was responsible for an 8 to 9% reduction in crashes (Moon & Hummer, 2010). Effects carried over for several months after the program ended before gradually returning to pre-intervention levels. Earlier evidence from Australia also suggested that paid media advertising could enhance the effectiveness of automated speed enforcement (Cameron et al., 1992). The evidence from seat belt (the Seat Belts and Child Restraints chapter, Sections 2.1, 2.2, and 3.1) and alcohol-impaired driving (the Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving chapter, Sections 2.1 and 2.2) enforcement programs also strongly suggests that good communications and outreach are essential to a successful enforcement program.

Costs: Good media campaigns can be expensive. See the Seat Belts and Child Restraints chapter, Section 3.1.

Time to implement: An effective media campaign requires 4 to 6 months to plan and implement.

Other issues:

  • Effective campaign characteristics: The Phillips et al. (2011) meta-analysis of publicity campaigns attempted to identify factors associated with successful campaigns. The researchers caution that they could not assess factors that were not reported on frequently, or had little variation, and also could not assess important program aspects such as the degree of publicity achieved, whether a campaign addressed the social norm, or whether behavioral change was achieved. As mentioned above, they found that speed-based campaigns were generally less effective than alcohol-themed ones. In addition, results suggested that the type of message delivery had an effect. Messages delivered through personal communications or at the roadside (such as variable and mixed message signs, etc.) were independently associated with greater effectiveness than campaigns that used mass media. Roadside delivery may provide the message in a context-relevant way that is more proximal to the potentially negative behaviors (such as speeding), while personal communications may improve processing of the message and message uptake compared with mass media delivery. However, the authors emphasized that the potential target reach of mass media suggests it still be considered a viable method of delivery.
  • As found in Philadelphia’s Heed the Speed campaign, getting message penetration through signs, flyers and other community outreach is a challenge in a large urban setting (Blomberg et al., 2012).