Research Papers

Monitoring Media Stories to Evaluate the Impact of Communications and Community Mobilization Efforts Under the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan (Owens)

Version 1
Date added June 29, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Policy and Practice, Session 1C
Author/Auteur Liz Owens
Stream/Volet Policy and Practice

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

1C - Owens


Background/Context: Traffic safety is a complex social marketing challenge with multiple components and factors. To this end, the first Alberta Traffic Safety Plan (TSP) was established in 2007 on the basis of identified best practices in traffic safety with the goals of reducing fatalities and serious injuries and improving traffic safety on Alberta roadways. The TSP combined the areas of communication and education, enforcement, community mobilization, engineering, and legislative enhancements within the Government of Alberta into a coordinated and targeted effort towards four priority areas and six general traffic safety areas. The TSP Communications Strategy focuses on encouraging Albertans to make changing traffic safety attitudes and behaviours across the province a social priority, especially through the TSP Calendar, which highlights one or two traffic safety topics each month.

Aims/Objectives: After establishing fourteen Regional Traffic Safety Consultants (RTSCs) across the province, an analysis of the subsequent frequency and coverage of traffic safety issues in the media across various media platforms in relation to the TSP Calendar topics was undertaken based on media reports concerning traffic safety after the TSP implementation, with a particular focus on media reports at the local level.

Methods/Target Group: The project assessed the impact of the TSP’s coordinated efforts in raising awareness of traffic safety in communities across Alberta, with a particular focus on smaller communities.
Results/Activities: An in-house system was created from the ground up to collect and analyze in excess of 1000 media stories per month primarily through statistical analysis, based on concepts from commercially available software and from information and practices available online about The Global Media Monitoring Project ( The system created was intuitive, easy to use, and minimized subjective interpretation, to maintain the integrity of the data. The resulting data could then be analyzed alongside other existing data.

Discussion/Deliverables: The goal was to demonstrate that while the TSP helped reduce fatalities and injuries on Alberta roadways, Alberta traffic safety consultants, enforcement, and related partners had a social impact at the local level in making traffic safety more visible. This was demonstrated through an analysis of: (a) how media stories concerning traffic safety topics increased with the introduction of the TSP Calendar topics and RTSCs, (b) enforcement activities as measured through conviction trends, (c) trends in traffic casualties, and (d) public education campaigns funded through the provincial Office of Traffic Safety. As traffic safety public education campaigns are a non-profit activity, the analysis also examined whether the relative costs of the public education campaign were in line with the established benchmark figure supported by the World Health Organization in relation to the estimated number of casualties avoided since the implementation of the TSP in Alberta. The information contained within the analysis can be used to support the effectiveness and continuation of public education campaigns, even in times of fiscal restraint.

Liz Owens