Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program

Work Zone Awareness Week: Outreach Ideas and Strategies Webinar
February 6, 2013

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Texas Department of Transportation Presentation, by Kelli Reyna, Texas Department of Transportation

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Work Zone Awareness at TxDOT

Public outreach activities and engagement strategies for National Work Zone Awareness Week

Orange sign reads: Give us a Break

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slide notes:

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What we'll discuss...

  • Partnerships for successful events
  • Overview of outreach activities
  • Strategies for promoting public awareness
  • Additional outreach opportunities
  • Program success and growth

slide notes:

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Valuable partnerships

  • Associated General Contractors (AGC)
  • American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA)
  • Texas Legislators
  • Local elected officials
  • Local law enforcement officers
  • N-Line Traffic Maintenance
  • CH2M Hill
  • DIJ Construction
Group photo

slide notes:

We have some valuable partnerships with transportation industry professionals, elected officials and contractors. These individuals continue to help us with our outreach efforts to ensure we continuously reach a larger audience and raise awareness about the importance of work zone safety.

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Why is public outreach needed?

A collage of photos depicting horrible accidents in work zones surrounds a chart that depicts Texas' annual crash rate during the 2007-2011 period. From a high of nearly 20,000, crashes dropped to a low of about 12,000 in 201, but rose to about 14,000 in 2011.

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Here at TxDOT, as well as any other state DOT, we vow to do everything we can to protect our workers and motorists. Unfortunately, the message wasn't always getting through to the public. When asked why outreach was needed, the answer was simple—to help folks understand the problem and to let them know they were part of the solution. This should, by default, help reduce the number of crashes and fatalities in work zones. By striving to make work zone safety personal, we were able to create behavioral change in the motoring public.

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Overview of outreach activities

Public location = public attendance

  • Press conferences
  • Memorial wall road tour
  • Work zone simulations
  • Educational fairs

Collage of photos from work zone safety awareness events

slide notes:

Having your event in a public location is key to reaching your target audience—the public. These include places like the state Capitol, Travel Information Centers, Safety Rest Areas, departments of public safety, etc. Also, changing it up from a traditional press conference helps generate interest. For example, you could have a statewide tour with the memorial wall, host work zone simulations to show motorists what it's like in these work zones, or educational fairs to teach the public about work zone safety.

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Overview of outreach activities

Well-known individual = high visibility

  • State senators or representatives
  • Group association leaders
  • Local celebrities
Collage of photos depicting officials at work zone safety awareness events

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Having well-known individuals participate in your work zone outreach efforts helps ensure awareness and coverage of the event. This includes state senators or representatives, local elected officials, group association members like AGC or ATSSA, or local celebrities, to name a few.

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Overview of outreach activities

Work zone victim = human factor

  • Crash survivor
  • Family or friends
  • Co-workers
Collage of photos depicting work zone crash victims and survivors at work zone safety events

slide notes:

As hard as it may be to hear the tragic stories that work zone victims and survivors tell, this is a key component to an effective outreach campaign because this introduces the human factor into the mix. While we all know the importance of paying attention and driving safely through work zones, others may not. These victims are able to share their "I never thought this could happen to me" moments and connect with other people in a personal way.

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Overview of outreach activities

Good visuals and transportation industry partner support = generate media interest

  • Memorial sleeves or hard hats
  • Crashed vehicles or equipment
  • Orange vests, cones, signs
  • Large crowd
Collage of photos depicting memorial events where hard hats and black ribbons are hung from orange cones and a totaled car

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It's also really important to have good visuals and the support of your transportation partners as it helps generate media interest. Anytime you can put the aforementioned combination of public location, a well-known individual, and victim together, paired with a good backdrop and b-roll opportunity, you're sure to get media coverage. Again, it's important to have media coverage because they help bring our message to the public.

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Successful strategies – external

If your objective is to reach the public you have to have events and outreach opportunities that allow you to accomplish that goal.

Screen captures of the TxDOT Facebook and YouTube pages.

slide notes:

If your objective is to reach the public you have to have events and outreach opportunities that allow you to accomplish that goal. There are several effective ways to reach your external audience:

  • creation of work zone awareness posters and handouts (supplied to media, TxDOT offices, local police departments and other transportation partners)
  • media advisories and news releases announcing local events and providing media outlets interesting opportunities for coverage
  • work zone awareness messages on DMS' statewide
  • opinion editorials (from TxDOT officials and transportation partners)
  • creation of multiple work zone safety videos and Public Service Announcements
  • feature stories in newsletters (AGC, construction magazines)
  • presentations to organizations or industry partners
  • social media updates and outreach
  • Media b-roll opportunities in active work zones (vigorous safety measures and precautions are taken for these efforts)

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Successful strategies – internal

Work zone safety promotional materials.

slide notes:

Some successful internal outreach strategies include:

  • work zone banners and feature pages on TxDOT's website
  • video messages recorded by Executive Director and shared with all employees, including being posted on our intranet site
  • feature stories in TxDOT's Transportation News newsletter
  • employee memos from administration emphasizing the need for safety in the work zone
  • work zone safety tag lines on all employee e-mails
  • Poster display in the Greer Building lobby (TxDOT's headquarters in Austin) along with orange cones set up on the front steps
  • "On the DOT" short video series for employees

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Additional outreach opportunities

TxDOT's 'Safety: Mission Zero' logo, a screenshot of the DOT's website with safety messages on it, and a photo of a work zone safety event.

slide notes:

At TxDOT, we continue to work to promote work zone awareness year-round, not just during NWZAW in April. The best way to bring about a behavioral change is to continue to share the message on a regular basis. One example of this is with our Safety: Mission Zero initiative to enhance our safety program, increase awareness and protect employees. Launched in 2011, the objective of this initiative is to have safety become the "culture" here at TxDOT, not the "program." The mission is to achieve Zero fatalities, Zero injuries, Zero lost time incidents, and Zero preventable incidents. Another example is with our I-35 Driver Education and Work Zone Outreach. Currently, TxDOT is in the midst of one of the largest construction projects in department history – expanding more than 100 miles of I-35 in Central Texas – and unfortunately, we've seen a spike in the number of fatal accidents along this corridor. In an effort to reduce the rising number of traffic and work zone-related fatalities, TxDOT partnered with DPS and AAA to enhance driver education and law enforcement to protect lives.

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Program success and growth

To date, we've seen a decrease in the number of work zone fatalities and crashes for the past three years.

Lessons learned:

  • Think outside the box and don't be afraid to change it up
  • Always make it personal
  • Do what works best for you
  • Don't lose sight of your goal
Black and white photos depicting workers doing road work in the 1930s.

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It's kind of hard to imagine work zones 50 years ago. These old pictures prove we've come a long way from where we've been and we've learned a few things along the way. At TxDOT, we've seen some encouraging numbers as far as the decline in work zone fatalities is concerned and positive growth in the public arena. We know we still have work to do, but we're encouraged by the progress.

Some of the lessons we learned were to always think outside the box and don't be afraid to try something new. Some new ideas can be scary, some may not be. My advice is to stick with an outreach program because it works, not because it's easy or comfortable. Also, always looks for a way to make it personal for the public and do what works best for you and your state to accomplish your outreach goals.

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Work zone awareness goal

All of these outreach activities were done to protect our workers and educate motorists about the need to slow down, pay attention, and drive safely through work zones.

After all, our number one goal is to make sure EVERYONE makes it home safely each day.

Road workers and their families behind orange barrels at a work zone safety event.

slide notes:

Implementing a multi-faceted outreach campaign to promote safety every day in work zones has allowed TxDOT to reach new heights in capturing the attention of all we serve. All of these outreach activities were done to protect our workers and educate motorists about the need to slow down, pay attention, and drive safely through work zones. After all, our number one goal is to make sure EVERYONE makes it home safely each day.

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