Road Safety Campaigns Take Multicultural Approach

Larry Copeland, USA Today, October 19, 2009

Highway safety campaigns across the USA increasingly are reflecting the nation’s diversity.

State traffic agencies are tailoring safe driving campaigns to reflect growth in minority groups and even refugee communities where English is not fully understood.

In Ohio, officials designing a seat-belt campaign aimed at the state’s large Somali refugee population wanted to adapt the popular “Click it or ticket” slogan but found that “ticket” doesn’t translate.

“They don’t have a government in Somalia, so ‘ticket’ doesn’t mean anything to them,” says Tina O’Grady, administrator of the state’s Traffic Safety Office. “We ended up translating it as ‘Strap it, or lose your livestock,’ which also means your money or income or livelihood.”

Federal rules require agencies that receive federal traffic safety funds to make safety information available to people whose English is limited, says Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “There are diverse populations all over the country,” she says.

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Minorities are disproportionately killed in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Native American and Hispanic drivers die disproportionately in alcohol-related crashes. Blacks have lower seat-belt use rates, and black and Hispanic children have lower restraint usage rates.

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