In 2020, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) set out to change driver attitudes about using cell phones while behind the wheel by piloting Missouri’s “Buckle Up Phone Down” (BUPD) campaign in the Bluegrass State. The campaign messaging was directed to drivers 16 to 34 years of age. With support from a GHSA and General Motors grant, KOHS conducted research on the target age group’s awareness of the BUPD campaign. The research included focus groups and a statewide online survey, both of which were conducted by advertising agency Red7e.
Focus Groups, Research and Findings
Four focus groups were held in Bowling Green, Louisville and Lexington from October 2022 through January 2023.
Focus group objectives included understanding young drivers’ views on driving and their driving behaviors; obtaining their viewpoint on both general advertising and safety messages; and gauging their awareness, reaction and response to the BUPD campaign.
Key questions included:
- Are younger drivers aware of the BUPD campaign?
- What specific message(s) are being received from those who are aware of the campaign and from those who are given forced exposure to campaign assets?
- What impact, if any, has the campaign had on stated driving behavior?
The results provided insight on the impact of the campaign and led to KOHS adjusting and expanding their distracted driving efforts.
- To make the message more personal and real, use influencers or people affected by the behavior.
- Producing or running ads does not guarantee exposure or changes in behavior.
- A lack of consistent enforcement (perceived or real) diminishes the drivers’ perception of the importance of refraining from distracted driving.
- Building an expansive program that starts with educating people at an early age (children) is the key to reducing distracted driving.
Ongoing Project Impact
After analyzing the results from the focus groups and online survey, KOHS determined that the target age group for the BUPD campaign would be drivers between 18 and 34 years of age. Since KOHS gained a better understanding of the target audience’s perception of the BUPD campaign, they are developing a jingle to impact repetition and frequency of the campaign message. Additionally, KOHS is planning to hold focus groups on pedestrian safety, furthering their analysis on current campaign messaging statewide.