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Drink driving has always been one of the most focused and concerned issues of the media and the government. The damages done by drink driving has been known by residents, the government and other organizations to be severe in West Australia. The government decided to increase penalties for people who drink and drive in order to use stricter deterrent to stop drivers from taking the chance of their own and others' lives. The details in the recent amendments to the Road Traffic Act 1974 - Alcohol and Drug Related Offences, Effective 1 October 2011, need to be known by the communities.
The Road Traffic Authority in West Australia (RTA) and the Office of Road Safety (ORS) will be implementing the new penalties as deterrent to drink driving. This message needs to be conveyed to the public especially to the 17 to 24 years old demographic that consists of most of the drink drivers.
The aim of this communication plan is to raise the public awareness of penalties and risk caused by drunk-driving by the end of May, 2012. This campaign is established by the RTA, the ORS and a non-profit organization Enough is Enough WA Inc. (EIEWA) The ultimate purpose of the campaign to the target audiences, through several steps and involves intermediaries focusing on the 17- 24 year olds, other drivers and people in grief whose family members were affected by drink driving.
This PR campaign is to inform the public and let them know to stop driving when under influence or they are going to receive higher fines, longer license suspension period and longer jail time. Initial formative research of drunk-driving has been done with various media research to identify the problematic reasons and seriousness to get ready for situation analysis. Statistics about how badly is the problem, the definition of drink driving, what penalties are set currently for different violators, will be shown in the research section. RTA and OSR will work together with EIEWA volunteers to lay out the campaign to inform people of the changes in penalties.
2.0 Research and analysis
2.1 Background to the Issue
Drink driving is a highly occurred social problem in West Australia. Not only does it violate road safety law, it also leads serious injuries and even fatalities. Drink driving contributes to over 30% of fatal road crashes. In 2009, 32% of all fatalities had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.05g/mL. This also included 21% of fatalities with a BAC 3 times over the legal limit (greater than 0.15g/100mL). In Western Australia in 2008/09, 21,855 drivers were tested by police and found to exceed the alcohol limit. Previous research has shown of these, approximately 60% were under 30 years of age (ORS Website, N.D.).
Statistics also show that intoxicated drivers who are involved in fatal crashes are 3 times more likely to have been speeding or not wearing a seatbelt than sober drivers.
Owing to cultural factors of public holiday, this circumstance is more like universal. For example, 54 drink drivers were caught in one day by police over Christmas and New Year alone. According to the WA Police statistics, 2,227 drunk-drivers were charged in the six weeks from December 1st to January 10th including 917 during the official 17-day Christmas holidays (COX, 2010).
Even though government is making efforts to increase punishments such as financial penalty, suspension of driving license, and sending violators to jail, the situation still has not been significantly improved even though a proportion of drivers are taking steps to reduce drink driving. According to the Office of Road Safety, Drink driving is a major contributor to road trauma in Western Australia with around one in every four fatal road crashes involving alcohol (Westaustralia.com, N.D.). In order to stop divers from drink driving, more drastic regulations need to be formulated to ensure road safety.
The government and office of Road Safety is set to increase penalties for people caught drink driving in West Australia.
According to TAC (2012), an organization that provides compensation to transport accident victims, the attitudes of drunk-drivers varied when they are taking the risk and driving close to or over the Blood Alcohol Content limit. TAC has launched mass media campaigns in order to persuade people not to drink and drive. However, a considerable of drinkers drive under the influence at the "low level" but illegal BACs. When they are driving to a venue where takes the BAC test, they hope they are within the limit and not to be breath tested.
With accidents caused by drunk-driving occurring more frequently and the consequences more severe, the public have become more concerned about the fatal costs of drunk-driving.
Drink driving problem can be categorized as a public menace that causes life threatening problems. From this angle, drunk drivers are being irresponsible to the public in bringing danger to people's life. Public safety should be supported by every citizen and it is common sense to behave accordingly.
Moreover, we can define the problem in criminal justice fatal threats to the innocent people especially those who were injures or killed in the drink driving related accidents or their family members. In this case, the problem has become a crime committed by drunk-drivers. The drivers ignore the law prohibition and take human being life for granted.
2.2 Definition of Drink Driving
Alcohol impairs one's ability to control a vehicle. Research suggests that, drink driving is, by technical definition, when drivers drive at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. The risk of being involved in a traffic crash is double that of a person who has not been drinking at all.
According to West Australian Police Department, referencing to the Road Traffic Act 1974, if you are caught driving with a Blood alcohol content (BAC) of â‰¥ 0.05 - < 0.08 you may either be infringed or required to appear in court.
The following table shows the penalties that will apply for a first offence of driving with a BAC of â‰¥ 0.05 - < 0.08 (WA Police Website, N.D.).
2.3 Situation analysis
An Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) survey has shown one in four drivers does not know the legal blood alcohol level for driving. It is imperative that drivers and the public know about what defines drink driving.
Changes in Drink and Drug Driving Law
The old penalty for being caught drink driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.08 is three months suspension for a first offence, and 12 months for a second offence. Commissioner says the penalties need to be greater (ORS Website, N.D.).
Drink and drug driving penalties have changed and affect all drivers in Western Australia. The changes in law reflect the increased risk of crashing as alcohol or drug intake increases, as well brings Western Australia's drink and drug driving laws in line with other States in Australia. Changes affect monetary fines and disqualifications for first, second and subsequent offences. Penalties are higher for repeat offenders. The aim of the increased penalties is to deter drivers from driving while affected by alcohol or drugs.
In addition to increased penalties, some groups of drivers are now required to drive with a zero Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). These include:
Drivers of: heavy vehicles with a Gross Combined Mass exceeding 22.5 tonne passenger vehicles (i.e., buses) equipped to seat more than 12 passengers including the driver, while carrying passengers;
Taxis carrying passengers for reward or hire vehicles carrying dangerous goods.
Holders of the extraordinary licenses
Recently disqualified drivers.
Novice drivers continue to be required to drive with a zero BAC.
Exemption to the zero BAC applies to prescribed emergency service employees and volunteers when responding to an emergency incident.
The extension of the zero BAC limit to the above driver groups recognized the increased risk that those drivers pose to passengers and other road users when driving with alcohol or drugs in the blood.
Statistics from the ORS shows that there have been 64 crash related deaths as at 10 May 2012 and 1,008 estimated serious injuries to date. The number has not changed much for ten year. As seen in Table 1, the average annual fatalities from has been around 192 per year and has not shown significant decrease during the past ten year. Among them, every one in four was caused by drink driving.
Table 1. Ten Year Fatalities Drink Driving (Government of WA, N.D.)
As over 88% of drink driving occurred amongst 17- 24 demographic group, it was decided to focus the campaign around high schools and colleges around WA. The drivers under the influence are confronted by two consequences: detection or losing a license. This significantly impacts the subsequent campaign we are going to launch.
3.0 Strategy Development
3.1 Communication Strategy
Since drink driving may affect all walks of lives, is it necessary to maximize media exposure as possible as this is the center issue that will cause a lot of attention and debates. Rather than focusing the entire event on a single media, this campaign utilize different types of media to reach out to as many as audience as possible. This campaign relies largely on the authority of law and law enforcement department, with help of organizations and actions from all stakeholders.
The goal of this project is to raise the awareness of the current changes in penalties for drink driving by raising the deterrents and penalties to those who drink and drive to achieve safer traffic environments through the efforts of all stakeholders including, but not limited to, the police department, drivers, families and road safety departments. The goals of this campaign are:
To raise the awareness amongst the target audiences, in this case, mostly the 17-24 demographic, of the changes punishments result from drink driving conviction;
To reinforce the awareness of seriousness of drink driving; to affirm that drink driving is unacceptable to all drivers.
To reduce the accident caused by drunk driving;
To ultimately deter drivers from driving after drinking.
Assure the changes in penalties are communicated well among stakeholders, campaign organizer, implementations and other parties involved in this campaign.
Build and raise profile on Social Network such as Facebook and Twitter, updating information about changes in penalties and educational information by the end of May. Provide links to drive traffic to the ORS website.
To raise public awareness of trough interviews with OSR officer on Morning shows during the coming week. Get in touch with local media reporters to broadcast the news about the changes in the penalties.
Encourage word of mouth information dissemination. Persuade 15 to 20 victim's family to volunteer to send disseminate Information to 10 to 20 high schools and colleges and other public venues.
This campaign will be supported from beginning to end by all stakeholders.
The Government is responsible to provide all information about the changes to the penalties and other related legislations and laws in print media and on its website, fully accessible to all who wants to get information. The Government should also put an emphasis on young offenders, repeat offenders and introduce rehabilitation program for offenders with serious alcohol problems.
RTA and Roads Safety Office
The Road Safety Officers are responsible for enforcing the actual legislation, finding out drink drivers, providing accurate BAC test for all suspected drink drivers. Making detailed accounts of every incidents and accidents, making sure violators are punished, provide guidance to help those who need help.
Non-Profit Organization & Volunteers
This campaign would be supported by Enough is Enough WA Inc (EIEWY), whose mission is to raise community awareness about drink driving and dangerous driving behaviors to influence change for the betterment of society. EIEWY is responsible for coordinating all parties, set the schedule and communicate with the media and schools. This organization will also organize families of tragedies on the roads to volunteer in this campaign.
Messages to General Public, to Drivers and Victims Family
Drink driving is never allowed
The inconvenience of drink driving involve: Lost of Freedom, jobs, financial security and even lives.
Reasons why not to drunk driving: Alcohol is responsible for over 30% of the people killed on our roads.
Drink driving is Never Okay
You deserve it. The penalties are for those who are reckless and not responsible for lives of others and their own.
This campaign will be carried out through the end of May to ensure people to be notified of the changes in law. With the right strategy, detailed plan should be made to communication plan.
4.1 Project Management
Due to the nature of this campaign and the limitation of budget, the following would be implemented at a near zero cost mostly driven by RTA and volunteers.
1. Print Media Distribution
Print media is a traditional way of disseminating information and it is direct and effective. Brochures issued by the police department, advising people of changes in legislations will be available for people throughout WA. The brochures also provide general information of how alcohol influences judgment and driving. Since the budget of this campaign is very limited, no further print media will be added but those already printed by the government, the RTA and the police departments will be distributed.
Posters and billboards warning people of changes in penalties will be posted on public places especially on high school and college billboards. Samples are available in the Appendix.
The campaign's enforcement activities will be supplemented by intense public awareness in the form of T.V. and new radio spots, billboards, print, and internet ads. Bars, restaurants and schools will receive fliers, posters, and table tents to display and help spread the message.
2. Internet & Social Network
The power of social network should never be underestimated. A profile of RTA and ORS will be created on Facebook to provide information about the changes, with links to the government website available just one click away. Since the majority of the drink driving happened among younger generations, who spend much more time on the Internet or Facebook or Twitter than on TV, it is necessary to use social network to disseminate information. Update information daily and encourage people to discuss this issue to gain more attention to the changes through more active participation.
3. Local Media-TV, Newspaper and Radio
Coordinate spokesmen from the RTA, the police commissioner and EIEWA Director for interviews with key local media, the government funded Channel 2 ABC TV station and local newspaper The West Australian to reach more audiences. As this campaign is largely driven by volunteers and resources are very limited, this will often be a challenge.
Air the official ORS TV commercial about the changes in law concerning drink driving. The Chief of RTA will be interviewed on local radio programs airing on morning broadcasting.
4. Social Organizations in Schools and Colleges
The campaign needs to focus on the 17-24 year old people and they spend a considerable amount of time on campus. Campaign coordinators are to contact local schools and colleges to ask for help from school administrators to get this message through, either through message boards or the electronic Blackboard.
5. Electronic and Direct Mail Out
Informational brochure will be mailed out directly to families and emails will be sent to those who registered with the website.
6. Speech at Bars and Restaurant associations -A speaker from the EIEWY who can be credible when will speak about changes of legislation about drink driving, about the dangers of drinking and driving, the safety tips and use of designated drivers to the restaurant and bar owners.
7. Other Planned Elements of the Event
â€¢ Educational games at schools and colleges
â€¢ Free consultations at every RTA and ORS office and school administration
4.2 Campaign Timeline/Calendar
The campaign is projected to last one month in May 2012. RTA will appoint a project manager to see to all the schedules is met and everything goes as planned. This officer will ensure the timeline and prioritize actions to be taken. Below is a preliminary timeline of this PR campaign.
Preliminary Meeting (May 1)
Organize volunteers for events.(May 1)
Brainstorming for ideas (May 1-May2)
Preparation for the event: promotional and marketing materials, posters, leaflets, websites.(May 2- 5)
Drafting ideas and plan to launch media.(May 5th -8th )
Establish Facebook and Twitter account. (May 5th )
Finalize communication plan by May 10th.
Initial outreach to selected media target. (May 10th - 15th )
Mailing out /sending out brochures.(Starting from May 14th )
Set up schedule for interview. (May 15th)
ORS officer Interview with Newspaper Correspondents. (May 12th)
Commissioner Interview on ABC TV (May 15th )
Radio Interview with local radio Station. (May 18th )
Campus tour. Speeches.(May 20th )
Meeting after the campaign. (June 1st)
Review results of the Campaign (Early June).
4.3 Budget and Ethics
This PR plan involves zero budgets since the implementation is carried out by volunteers, with the support from social groups, the government and the police department. Most if not all of the communications and interactions happen among staff and audiences and other stakeholders instead of paid media. Community volunteering and most of other tactics make it possible to drive costs down to almost zero. All activities are to be implemented in an ethical way, including the languages used in all the materials sent out and speeches by the spokesperson on TV, Newspapers and Radios.
4.4 Risk Management and Concerns
There is an element of risk in this PR campaign. There is always opposition from people since this is a controversial public issue that will affect the interest of certain social groups. Even though most people believe that stricter punishments/fines may deter drink driving, some hold the idea that it will not help ease this problem.
In one debate on juggle.com, 67% percent of people agree that mandatory jail time help decrease drink driving, whilst 37% say it will not matter. Some are convinced that stricter punishment would decrease the number of drunken drivers. Drivers would more likely to stay at home or use the common idea of a designated driver. Repeat offenders do not find the penalties that bad because they have not been properly punished.
Critics debate on whether stricter law will deter criminal actions. Zen (1999) argues that stricter penalties, such as longer jail time, will not help deter drink driving. The empirical results suggest that drink driving legislation has had little impact on the incentive to drink and drive. He uses a multivariate regression shows that other factors may have had a greater influence on the decline. In fact, with the exception of fines for driving without a license, most penalties had no statistically significant effect on fatalities. Policy-makers may therefore wish to focus on general safety measures.
Families in grief who suffer from drink driving accidents might not agree the degree of changes and this might cause opposite voices to demand more drastic approach to stop drink driving. The campaign planners should make a crisis management plan when the confrontation happens.
Evaluative research will be done after the campaign to see what outcome has been created of the work and how objectives set are met.
5.1 Measuring the Effectiveness
To measure the effectiveness of this PR campaign, a viable way is to compare the outcome. The number of accidents related to drink driving before and after the change of penalties.
To quantify, the number of brochures and number of schools that were visited should be counted. To evaluate, a survey should be conducted online and in person to gather information about how people are aware of the new penalties for drink driving. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation should both be.
In deciding the surveys/polls or focus group interviews, the following must be taken into consideration:
Number (percentage) of people surveyed who have known about the changes.
Number of followers on twitters; number of feeds generated.
Number of brochures sent out.
What Newspaper report achieve? Is there any feedback from the reader?
On qualitative side, how people react to the changes? What are their opinions about this change? What is the impact on drivers and others in the communities?
Calculate number of inquiries on the Internet.
Calculate opposite opinions either from polls/surveys and online posts.
For a longer term of time, compare the number of drink driving violations before and after the campaign.
However, even thought he message are sent, receivers may or may not want to act on it. This complicated the evaluation process.
In order to measure the outcome more correctly and effectively, a questionnaire will be sent out to sample population, especially among 17-24 year olds, to answer those questions. Volunteers will be counting and recording the numbers and make comparative charts to show the difference.