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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Final Detailed Findings Report for Marketing Plan and Outreach Materials

Final Detailed Findings Report for Marketing Plan and Outreach Materials that Promote Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety to Different Hispanic Populations in the United States

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Section 2. Highway Safety Needs of U.S. Hispanic Communities: Issues and Strategies

2.1 Introduction

This NHTSA study identified the highway safety needs of Hispanic communities in the U.S. The researchers obtained information from agency and organization representatives and focus group participants.

2.2 Abstract (copied from report)

Growing diversity within the U.S. population is presenting new challenges to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies that serve the public. One of the fastest growing demographic groups is the Hispanic population. The term Hispanic encompasses a number of communities that differ in their cultural heritage. The objective of this study was to identify the highway safety needs of Hispanic communities within the United States. The study also explored how best to promote highway safety issues to those communities and identified similarities and differences among the Hispanic communities on highway safety issues. Telephone discussions were held with representatives of public and other agencies actively engaged with Hispanic communities in California, Texas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, New York City/New Jersey and Florida. In addition, focus groups were conducted with adolescent males, young adult males, young adult females and parents of young children.

Drinking and driving was the safety problem most frequently identified by the organizational representatives and community members, followed by nonuse of safety belts. In promoting health and safety, community members recommended developing themes that have some relationship to their lives, and agreed that the family is one of the most powerful symbols in the Hispanic community. The organizational representatives emphasized the importance of personal contact and establishing relationships within the community.

2.3 Summary

This report addresses the following highway safety problems that were identified by agency and organization representatives and focus group participants:

  1. Drinking and driving
  2. Speeding
  3. Inattention
  4. Seat belt use
  5. Child safety seat use

Drinking and driving was mentioned most often by both agency and organization representatives and focus group participants. Many reasons were cited, including alcohol consumption as proof of manhood and lack of knowledge about the effects of alcohol on driving ability.

Study participants agreed that the family is one of the most powerful symbols in the Hispanic community. As stated on page 93,

"All study participants emphasized that any public awareness campaign for the Hispanic community must feature the family. According to one Texas participant, anything that is viewed as dangerous for the family reaches the entire community, so the safety of the family can be a key message."

Agency and organization representatives and focus group participants found that the following strategies have been effective in their communities for communicating health and safety information:

  1. Realistic messages
  2. Person-to-person contact
  3. Public service announcements
  4. Message delivery through schools, churches, and community-based organizations

Based on their experience in developing and implementing programs, agency and organization representatives determined that the following strategies would not work in Hispanic communities. Focus group participants corroborated many of these.

  1. Impersonal approaches
  2. The use of aggressive or enforcement-oriented messages
  3. The tendency to ignore the diversity within Hispanic communities
  4. Presentations that come across as disrespectful or condescending
  5. Excluding key members of the community from program development and implementation.

2.4 Questions answered

What types of messages are most likely to have the most impact? What tone should the messages have? Should humor be used, or would messages with "shock value" have more impact?

Focus group participants called for graphic and explicit descriptions of motor vehicle crashes and the impact on families. This suggests that "shock value" may be also appropriate for pedestrian- and bicyclist-oriented messages.

What are the best "media" for getting the messages across? Should the messages ultimately be delivered in newspaper or magazine ads? Would television ads be effective?

"Study participants, particularly in urban areas, viewed television as the medium with the most potential for disseminating traffic safety information to the Hispanic population." (page 95) However, page 119 of the report notes that the most effective medium – radio, television or print materials – may differ by location.

Which Hispanic groups should be targeted and why? Which age groups of Hispanics should be targeted and why?

Study participants identified young inexperienced drivers, recent immigrants, rural residents, elderly drivers, and unlicensed and uninsured drivers as Hispanic driver groups that more often seem to display unsafe behaviors as drivers and passengers.

Should materials be presented just in Spanish, or in English and Portuguese as well?

Materials may be presented in Spanish only, English only, or both Spanish and English, depending on the target audience.:

The preferred language depends on age and acculturation (i.e., recent immigrant versus second generation). This report did not include Portuguese.

2.5 Outstanding questions

In what pedestrian and bicycle safety-related areas is communication with Hispanic audiences most needed?

This report does not address pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Which Hispanic groups should be targeted and why? Which age groups of Hispanics should be targeted and why?

Study participants identified young inexperienced drivers, recent immigrants, rural residents, elderly drivers and unlicensed and uninsured drivers as groups that more often seem to display unsafe behaviors as drivers and passengers. Crash data should be analyzed to determine whether these groups are over-represented in pedestrian and bicycle crashes. Input from focus groups should be solicited to determine the groups to be targeted for pedestrian and bicycle safety messages.

Should different cultural groups be targeted and why?

Crash data should be analyzed to determine which cultural groups are over-represented in pedestrian and bicycle crashes. Input from focus groups should be solicited to determine the groups to be targeted for pedestrian and bicycle safety messages.

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Page last modified on January 31, 2013.
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