The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission pro-actively identifies and works with underserved communities to promote safe driving through an array of innovative efforts designed to reach all state residents, regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status or physical ability. The LHSC’s focus on equity is facilitated by a Diversity Outreach Coordinator, who works with partners across the state to bring highway safety messages to those communities that are the most vulnerable to traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.
One highly successful outreach effort involves the Bayou Classic, an annual college football game between two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the state: the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars. In 2019, the game and related festivities brought more than 200,000 people to New Orleans for the weekend, with more than 80,000 fans at the game. The 2020 game was postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in April 2021.
LHSC utilizes the Bayou Classic and weekend activities to promote traffic safety messages for students, fans at the game, and those watching on TV. This includes featuring a safe driving message broadcast through video clips and stadium ribbon boards during the game and half-time entertainment, with the public service announcer at the game periodically reminding everyone in attendance to buckle up or to drive sober, depending on the theme of that season’s message. In particular, because of the overrepresentation of African Americans in Louisiana’s unrestrained fatality and serious injury statistics, LHSC has emphasized an occupant protection safety message for Bayou Classic attendees and fans. One such successful OP campaign was delivered by the Louisiana-based rap artist known as “Cupid,” who re-worked an OP behavioral message into a shortened version of his iconic “Cupid Shuffle.” That musical PSA continues to energize its Louisiana audience with its “Now Click—Every Seat, Every Time” message.
Beyond game-day engagement, LHSC also holds outreach events at Grambling and Southern in advance of the big game, to share safe driving messages directly with students at those HBCUs, where SGA student leaders and fraternity and sorority members appear as vocal representatives of the safety message. With an eye toward additional pre-game data collection opportunities, LHSC also engages drivers throughout the Bayou Classic weekend by asking people to complete a short survey on their driving attitudes and habits and to provide demographic information. These surveys provide valuable data on the public’s knowledge of key safety topics and serve as a reminder for drivers to buckle up and ensure they’re sober before they get behind the wheel.