The UK Government has an objective of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 40 per cent (50 per cent for children) by the year 2010 (using the average for 1994-98 as the baseline). Key factors in achieving that objective are improved road user behaviour and acceptance of engineering and enforcement initiatives that increase road safety. Education and publicity play a key role in raising consumer awareness and acceptance.
The basic approach is national publicity using a mix of emotion and facts that raise the profile of road safety. The campaign utilises a range of media channels - TV, radio, press, posters, ambient etc. - to provide a national platform to stimulate complementary regional and local authority activity and to encourage private sector companies to cascade messages to their employees and customers. A range of free publicity material is made available to local authorities and others to promote consistency of messages at national and local level. The campaign has also entered into sports sponsorship with the Rugby Football League and the English Football League to enable to spread the messages across to a wider audience using a celebrity based approach.
Road Safety advertising has been a key priority for many years. In the past, advertising focussed on specific themes such as drink drive and Seat belts. In recent years it has communicated many more messages - such as fatigue and use of mobile phones. The campaign wanted people to see that these extra individual messages were part of an overall campaign to improve road safety. So in June 2000 a new campaign was launched under one banner - THINK! - to unite our various road safety messages.
Can you see the bike?
The aim of Government road safety campaigns is to reinforce the need for drivers and other road users to take responsibility for their own safety and for the safety of others on the road. In the wider context, the theme of personal and social responsibility is central to the Government's philosophy and to its transport policies to encourage more responsible travel choices.
The encouragement of more people to walk or cycle instead of driving makes the promotion of safety for more vulnerable road users and the responsible and considerate behaviour of drivers even more important.
Road safety publicity campaigns raise public awareness that accidents do not just happen, rather they are caused. Public awareness campaigns can help to influence the attitudes and behaviours that cause accidents. They also create public acceptance for safety engineering and police enforcement and they give national focus and context for local initiatives aimed at making the roads safer and for third parties to carry road safety messages in the context of their own commercial activities.
The THINK! campaign was therefore launched:
The THINK! campaign is not about the motorist as such, or the pedestrians, or cyclists, motor cyclists, etc. It is about people, about the citizen, about each and all of us. It is about how we all use our roads safely, whether we happen to be motoring, walking, cycling or whatever. This is mainly to build a mood of "we're all in it together" to have greater effect.
The expression "show me the child at seven and I'll show you the adult" neatly encapsulates our approach. We target people from childhood to adulthood, aiming to instil good practice at a very early age with frequent reminders for teenagers and adults.