Examples of PR/publicity Campaigns to Improve Driver Safety in Severe Winter Weather Conditions
J Wicks, MVA Ltd., UK; M Wilson, Highways Agency, UK
Understanding the factors that enable drivers to travel more safely in severe winter weather conditions, including the trade-off between the need for advanced warning and the uncertainty that goes with long-range forecasts.
Providing a network for safe and reliable journeys is a primary aim for the Highways Agency. Yet during the winter months, the weather often affects the road conditions and this can cause problems for drivers. The Agency is therefore keen to understand the factors that influence drivers to travel on the network in such conditions, as well as being able to successfully communicate with members of the public and encourage appropriate driving behaviour during winter journeys.
The Agency and the Met Office are currently working together to provide travellers with a clear message about weather conditions and travel circumstances. This will allow drivers to prepare for their journeys in the safest way, and provide a consistent message, which will encourage people to trust the information.
Between October 2004 and February 2005, the Agency included additional questions in the Road Users? Satisfaction Survey to gain a greater understanding of travel and driver behaviour in winter weather. Results showed that during periods of severe winter weather the majority of those who change their travel plans only do so on the day that they travel. However, it appears that advance warnings are still helpful, and as findings from focus groups illustrate, whilst people do not react instantly to a severe weather warning, it does alert them to find out more information nearer the time. The paper will highlight the contrast between what preparations people think they should make before winter journeys and what they actually do.
This paper will present the main findings from the winter weather research. It will illustrate how the Agency presents information to the public, and the variety of formats they use (including media coverage, leaflets, and use of road signs). Finally, this paper will illustrate how working in partnership with the Met Office has benefited the winter weather publicity campaigns and encouraged safer driving.
Association for European Transport