Community engagement in the development and implementation of a rural road safety campaign: Steps and lessons learned
Rural crashes result in fatality rates twice as high as urban, after accounting for vehicle miles traveled, and those involving farm vehicles tend to be the most severe. Farm vehicle crash interventions have focused on the farm equipment (e.g., lighting and marking) or the farm vehicle operator (e.g., training), despite crashes being most frequently caused by other vehicle driver actions. Community-based campaigns focused on rural drivers have potential to influence driver behavior. The objective of this study was to describe the role, formation, and lessons learned from a community advisory board (CAB) in the development and dissemination of a community-based rural roadway safety campaign.
The CAB provided campaign input through quarterly meetings and email. The campaign had three main CAB and crash data-informed messages: 1) Slow Down, 2) Leave More Space, and 3) Avoid Passing. The CAB led campaign activities to publicize the message, distribute swag, and organize event logistics. To evaluate CAB effectiveness and inform future community engagement efforts, we conducted in-depth, semi-structured telephone interviews with CAB members in July 2020. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and codes were categorized into five main themes.
Overall, CAB membership was described as an overwhelmingly positive experience in terms of the CAB structure, culture fostered among the group, responsibilities, and time commitment. Board members reported successful campaign implementation, gave positive feedback regarding the research team's engagement efforts, and provided valuable recommendations for future campaigns (e.g., adding social media components, expansion of CAB age and industry diversity, and increasing group bonding activities).
Results from this study demonstrate the instrumental role and logistics involved in engagement of community advisors for the development and implementation of a rural roadway safety campaign. Steps and lessons from this study can be applied to other community-level injury and violence prevention topics, with a particular focus on rural communities.