The media has an important role to play in the effective communication of road safety messages. Just the language used to report on a fatality can drastically alter the way the news is received by the public. To illustrate, a newspaper headline reporting on a triple fatality on the national highway could simply read: ‘Three killed in head on collision on national highway’. Alternatively, taking a road safety mindset, it could read: ‘Speed a major factor in three deaths on national highway’. These simple changes can make a huge difference in reinforcing road safety messages with the general public.
To help strengthen the capacity of media to both report, and report effectively, on road safety issues, grantee of the Bloomberg Philanthropies funded Road Safety Grants Programme, Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, held a series of media and policy maker training sessions in Vietnam late last year. Recently, a six month assessment of the training was conducted to gauge its effectiveness.
Rewardingly, 95 per cent of government officers and 87 per cent of journalists reported that they had applied what they learned in the training to their work, and the majority reported that they had shared the knowledge with others. Following the training, journalists produced some 80 news articles, features, and TV documentaries. Government officers applied the training through a variety of activities, including:
Training for teachers, parent, and community members on school communication activities and the importance of child helmet use (including a course for 260 teachers in Dong Nai).
Development of communication strategies tailored to the provincial context.
Assessment of the current status [of helmet use] in primary schools to provide evidence for implementation.
Road safety communication contests from school to provincial level.
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation’s work the through Road Safety Grants Programme is focussed on supporting the implementation of helmet wearing legislation for children through relevant government agencies and robust media engagement.