Montana Department of Transportation

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Research

Guidance for Evaluating Traffic Safety Culture Strategies

In an effort to reduce the number of traffic crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities, traffic safety agencies are developing and implementing new intervention strategies aimed at changing road user culture. However, systematic evaluations of the implementation and impacts of these new programs are not advancing as rapidly as the programs themselves. At this point, there are neither well-developed summative/outcome evaluations nor formative/process evaluations of most existing programs. Compounding this lack of systematic evaluation is an underlying lack of consensus about or development of the sorts of evaluation designs capable of yielding results that researchers and program managers can be confident in to support future programming and resource allocation decisions. This lack of accessible evaluation data severely restricts the advancement and adoption of effective campaigns because there is (1) no guidance on how to improve campaigns, (2) no evidence to discontinue ineffective campaigns, and (3) no impetuous to advance safety campaign techniques. As the conceptual development of culture-based safety strategies becomes more refined and more agencies move to implement those strategies, there is a need to systematically assess which program models are effective and why and what program models function well within organizations and communities. It is also important to consider evaluations focused on culture change and development in settings other than traffic and transportation agencies. While the shift towards cultural approaches to safety programming is relatively new to transportation and traffic domains, culture change and cultural interventions have been used in other organization types for nearly three decades. As the features and functions of culture are not confined to traffic or transportation domains, there is also a need to assess what is known about change strategies and their effectiveness in other areas such as public health, social services, nursing, community development, and beyond. Assessment of what is known about the effectiveness of culture-based strategies in these areas will enable researchers and program staff to begin to determine what can be drawn from these settings and applied or adapted to traffic safety. To address the lack of generally accepted formative and summative evaluation designs and the resulting lack of available outcome and process data, this research will: 1. Conduct a comprehensive systematic review of available evaluations of traffic safety culture initiatives in order to catalog and assess both their designs and findings. This will result in a better understanding of the state of the field with respect to what is known about the effectiveness of existing culture-focused interventions and countermeasures and will identify, catalog, and assess the evaluation designs including their associated impact indicators and measures. 2. Conduct a parallel examination of what is known about formative and summative designs used to evaluate culture change initiatives in other fields including organization development, community development, and community health. An examination of these related fields will yield additional information about both the effectiveness and rigor of the evaluation designs as well as any knowledge generated about the effectiveness and operation of culture change programs in those fields. 3. Provide guidance for practitioners on best practices to evaluate traffic culture strategies. To support this objective, this project will create: 1. Summary Guidance on Best Practices to Evaluate Traffic Safety Culture Strategies – A brief document will be created that can be readily used by traffic safety professionals and stakeholders. 2. Journal Article – An academic journal article will be written and submitted for publication to a peer reviewed journal in the traffic safety field. This article will help move the field of study forward and provide researchers with guidance on how to evaluate culturally-based strategies in the future. 3. Webinar – A webinar will be created to summarize guidance for the traffic safety community. The webinar will highlight how program managers can use this guidance to select intervention strategies. 4. A Poster – A high-resolution graphic will be created that is suitable for printing on a large poster for use in a conference poster session for traffic safety professionals to use to disseminate a summary of guidance on the evaluation of traffic safety culture strategies. A handout with talking points will also be created.