Introduction of the Australian Road Rules (ARR) to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Australia was one of the most comprehensive and overwhelmingly successful communications campaigns undertaken in recent years.
Its target was the entire population of the State; its purpose was to provide detailed information about new road traffic laws; its success was researched and documented.
The campaign was a combination of community education and issues management, with the consultancy, Chalke & Associates, playing a pivotal role in development of the strategy, key messages, materials, media relations, and launch.
The campaign was handled by a consortium of Chalke & Associates, Limelight Marketing Communications, and Harrison Market Research, on behalf of the client, Transport SA.
It began with research to establish existing knowledge of traffic law, development of a strategy to alert the public to the new rules and the principal changes, preparation and launch of a broad campaign using a wide range of public relations tools, management of issues arising from individual rule changes, and post-campaign research.
The campaign had to involve a range of key stakeholders and meet the 1 December 1999 deadline agreed around Australia it delivered on that deadline.
The campaign also had to fit within a pre-ordained budget, which included print production of a 24pp, A5 booklet for every household in South Australia. It delivered on that budget.
The campaign had to familiarise the driving public with the new Rules. Pre-campaign research revealed 17% knew of the ARR. Post-campaign research revealed 97% knew of the ARR.
The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />AustralianStates and Territories had developed their own traffic laws over many years and the differences between these created road safety risks and confusion. The first attempts to develop national road rules started in 1948 but it was not until the 1990s that State Governments began working together to develop uniform rules with the assistance of the National Road Transport Commission.
By 1998, the Australian Road Rules were agreed, and all States and Territories (except WA) also agreed to introduce them on 1 December 1999 following the passage of the necessary legislation in each jurisdiction.
Transport SA put in place an extensive tendering process that attracted Expressions of Interest from consortia representing most of the public relations, marketing, advertising and research agencies in Adelaide.
Chalke & Associates was the preferred choice along with its consortium partners, Limelight Marketing Communications and Harrison Market Research. The consortium immediately formed a joint project group with the communications and project management representatives from Transport SA and the office of the Minister for Transport and Urban Planning. The first meeting of the joint project committee took place on 5 August 1999.
The Communications Group established the following timelines:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" />
Aug to 30 Sept 1999
7 Oct 1999
Dec 99 to Feb 2000
The launch of the public relations and advertising publicity campaign was set for 10 November with that launch being performed by the Minister for Transport and Urban Planning.
The campaign timing was chosen to coincide with the 1 December introduction of the ARR and the SA Police decision to have a three-month period in which cautions would be issued. Police were supplied with an educational brochure to hand out when cautioning drivers and other road users.
The adoption of nationally uniform road rules was a major achievement of cooperation between States and Territories but it was quickly realised that the scale of the changes (351 Rules and 51 Regulations) and the sheer volume of the target audience (every South Australian road user, including pedestrians and passengers) would require a communications campaign of depth and detail.
The campaign therefore needed to have a No Excuses component; that is we needed to ensure we obtained maximum coverage with the communications strategy so that no member of the public could say: I didnt know about the new Australian Road Rules.
One member of the consortium, Harrison Market Research, commenced the program with an extensive survey of public knowledge of existing traffic law.
This involved eight group discussions with a range of groups, including young drivers and rural drivers, a telephone survey of 800 people, one-on-one interviews with all the key stakeholders, and a review of existing information.
The interest groups that were canvassed included SA Police, representatives of disabled road users and people for whom English is a second language, farmers, motor bike riders, cyclists, commercial road users, regional and metropolitan road users, emergency services, local councils and the RAA.
The research revealed a number of key findings that helped to project team to fashion the most appropriate campaign. These included:
- only 17.3% of respondents had heard of the Australian Road Rules;
- 62.2% of respondents did not know the open road speed limit, indicating, with other questions, widespread lack of knowledge;
- people were generally supportive of the introduction of a national set of rules;
- people did not think South Australian drivers were particularly good, even themselves, with impatience and lack of courtesy given as the main reason for negative attitudes;
- people wanted information to be given to them they would not go looking for it;
- a letterbox-delivered booklet, backed by television advertising, explaining the main changes and why they were being made was the preferred option.
The research enabled the project team to define what the target audiences did not know, what they needed to know, what they were supportive of, what were issues for them, and how they wanted to be told.
At the centrepiece of the strategy that evolved was the letterbox booklet written by Chalke & Associates.
Post-campaign research on a matching scale was carried out in April. The outcomes are discussed under Results.
It was quickly realised from the information and briefings provided by Transport SA and the Project Management Team that the target public was the entire State; everyone who in any way uses the roads and paths whether as a car driver; bus, truck or taxi driver, motor bike and bicycle rider, pedestrian, skateboarder or passenger.
However, it was also appreciated that because of the scale of the target, there was the added requirement of having the message understood by every socio-economic level, by road users from a multi-cultural background for whom English was a second language, and by disabled road users, such as the visually-impaired.
The target publics were not the only recipients of information there was also a wide range of stakeholders who had to be informed and included.
The key stakeholders were:
- SA Police
- Local Government Association
- The Judiciary
- Passenger Transport Board
- Motor Accident Commission
- Motor vehicle insurers
- State cycling organisations
- Emergency Services
- Multi-cultural Communities Council
- SA Road Transport Association, Truck Operators Association and Interstate authorities
- · Taxi Association
There were secondary stakeholders, who were also target audiences. These included:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Other sections of Transport SA, including Safety Strategy, BikeSouth, Policy & Strategy, Customer Services, Metropolitan region and all country regions
- Motor Cycle Riders Association
- Motor Traders Association
- Bus and Coach Association (TransAdelaide, Serco, Hills Transit and rural bus services)
- Bicycle Institute of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Australia (BISA)
- Disability Action
- Australia Post
- SA Farmers Federation
- Diving Instructors
- Transport unions
- SA Pensioners Association and other aged welfare groups (Meals on Wheels)
These were included in a wide range of other target audiences such as traffic patrol police, media, road workers, schools and parents, contractors working on the roads (for gas, electricity water), courier companies, horse riding groups, multi-cultural groups, and event organisers.
While needing to inform the entire State about the new rules, the public relations element of the project needed to ensure that the broad and varied issues that were expected to arise were identified and then successfully managed and contained.
This required a strategic theme that would position the Road Rules in a way that their need for comprehension by the general public was not overshadowed by peripheral issues, such as additional restrictions on car parking and the scale of fines for the small number of new offences.
To this end, Chalke & Associates proposed, and the ARR Communications Group accepted, developing a campaign based on what the consultancy called the Four Keys to Better Driving:
- Common sense, and
- Rules that are easy to understand
The public relations campaign with the advertising campaign mirroring it stressed these four key points to create the view among the target audiences, and especially the media, that while there were important changes, they were for the benefit of all road users and gave everyone the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and improve their road skills.
To reach every sector of the target audience, it was necessary to use the full range of public relations techniques alongside the marketing tools.
The marketing aspect of the campaign used television commercials, radio commercials, bus-back, cinema and print advertising.
The public relations campaign used:
- Letterbox booklet (distributed to all 595,000 households in the State, and via Transport SA, RAA offices, and councils 700,000 were printed and distributed)
- Brochures for police traffic patrols, heavy vehicle drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and taxi drivers (distributed by police, and through interest groups and industry bodies such as the SA Road Transport Association, which sent out 1200 to truck and bus drivers and operators)
- Script for cassette tapes for the visually impaired, to be distributed by appropriate welfare groups
- Media releases
- Media Backgrounder on ARR
- Media Backgrounder on Top 20 key changes
- Frequently-Asked Questions for Media and Information Kits
- Ministerial launch event with display boards for background vision
- Ministerial Q&A
- An Information Kit for MPs and constituency offices
- Information Sheet for councils and business organisations
- Radio talkback spots for ARR Project Manager
- Scripts for pre-recorded, 30-second spots on ABC Breakfast Show with Ashley Walsh, which ran for several weeks
- Dot points of critical facts for radio; extensive coverage was received from commercial radio for public service and news announcements and from smaller stations, including ethnic broadcaster 5RPH and country stations
- Post-launch Briefing for Media Influencers by Transport SA
- Pre-written feature articles for magazines e.g. cycling, disabled, schools, motoring
- Provision of material to regional print media.
- A hotline for enquiries
- Advisory briefing sessions to hotline team members
- Media and hotline enquiry log sheets
- Flyers for bus drivers explaining the 5-second rule
- Flyer for skateboarders and roller-bladers
- Flyer for heavy vehicle drivers on interstate routes
- Advertorials for selected newsletters and magazines on safety and education
- Draft articles for national trade magazines provided to National Road Transport Commission
- CD-Rom with the full ARR supplied to all public libraries
- Progress Reports to Minister
Issues Management <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The following strategies were developed to facilitate the immediate handling of issues arising in the media:
- Prepare issues position papers on each identified issue; determine whether issue is pro-active or reactive i.e. requiring mitigation plan or contingency plan.
- Prepare media releases and Q&As on standby for issues that can be tackled by mitigation.
- Organise a rapid response system so that unidentified issues can be reacted to and the approval chain is smooth and efficient.
- Prepare Frequently-Asked Questions document and have on standby to issue in response to any media inquiry.
- Talkback shows provide easy-recall set of dot points on the main issues for hosts to respond to callers (developed from Top 20).
- Identify and prepare specific spokesperson for issues management response.
The following Strategic Issues were identified:
- Minimum Parking Distances and how they affect car parking outside businesses (Council resistance, small business resistance).
- Residents and parking near driveways, bus stops and intersections.
- Enforcement (negative reaction to minor infringements like cycling on the footpath).
- Enforcement (possible action from Day 1 and revenue raising).
- Fines Enforcement campaign (A-Gs department project).
- Cyclists and their concerns, especially roundabouts (lobby groups).
- Council concerns conflict with Government; cost of changes; car parking.
- Regional concerns cross-border differences.
- National media coverage potential for error and confusion concern over A Current Affair. Ongoing liaison was maintained with the National Road Transport Commission by tele-conference.
- Making the changes relevant to all drivers research showed drivers think theyre good but all other drivers are unsatisfactory.
- Overtaking lanes in rural areas single continuous dividing lines.
The following Educational Issues were identified:
- Pedestrian rights of way
- Keeping left except when overtaking in Over 80km/h zones
- Tailgating and how it will be enforced
- Giving way to buses
- Use of mobile phones
- Cyclists footpath cycling (Opposition MPs concern; elderly and disabled issue)
- Disabled parking times
- 5-second rule
- Zip merging
- Single continuous dividing lines (passing lanes on rural highways)
- Speed camera detectors banned
- Distances between heavy vehicles
- Multi-lane roundabouts
- Minimum parking from driveways possible local newspaper letters
- Skateboards and in-line skates wheeled toy vehicles
- 3 metre clearance from a single continuous dividing line suburban street parking
Post-campaign market research was carried out in April 2000, more than four months after the Ministerial launch, delivery of the letterbox booklets and commencement of the television advertising campaign.
Once again, Harrison Market Research held eight group discussions, conducted a telephone survey of more than 800 people around the State, interviewed key stakeholders and reviewed existing information.
The results were impressive:
- 97.2% of respondents had heard of the ARR;
- 76.6% had read the information in their letterbox booklet;
- 69.6% agreed they now had a good understanding of the changes to the road rules;
- there was high unprompted recall of a number of new rules and individual rule changes, with the 5-second indication rule leading the way with 44% of respondents remembering it;
- seven in ten agreed they now had a good understanding of the Australian Road Rules; and
- seven in ten agreed that the new rules make driving safer and easier.
The research report stated:
The survey results indicate a very successful new Australian Road Rules communications campaign. Central to this conclusion is the almost unanimous unprompted awareness of the new Australian Road Rules in April 2000 (97% compared with 17% in September 1999). This level was recorded across South Australian 16+ year olds irrespective of age and gender, including metropolitan and regional areas.
A marginally lower awareness level was recorded among people from households in which English is not the main language spoken. However, this proportion (79%) could still be considered a success.
Pivotal to the Australian Road Rules campaign was the letterbox delivered booklet. It is encouraging that without any prompting this was nominated as the prominent source of information about the ARRs (77%) followed by television advertising (71%). There were very few comments in relation to not receiving the booklet.
The results, the research agency agreed, were exceptional and it is clear that the main public relations component, the letterbox booklet, had the major communications impact.
It is important to note that the research agencys role in the project was to conduct the surveys and interpret their outcomes.
The Australian Road Rules have met with a very positive response and are recognised and known throughout the State, as the follow-up research has revealed and to which the incredible weight of positive media coverage attested.
The National Road Transport Commission wrote to the Minister for Transport, Urban Planning and the Arts, the Hon Diana Laidlaw MLC, to congratulate <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Australia on the excellence of our campaign.
The Minister advised (letter attached) that the NRTC had written: South Australia has produced the best, most professional and comprehensive information material for the Australian Road Rules.
The Minister also wrote to Chalke & Associates to thank the consultancy for its work during the campaign. Her letter (attached) said:
I write to express my thanks for the work you ... have done in regard to the Australian Road Rules.
The thought and dedication given to ... the written material is clearly evident.
I was extremely pleased with the launch earlier in November and the information kits that have since been distributed to all Members of Parliament.
Our office has also had a call from a rural member of the community who has received his 24-page booklet and said that it is fantastic. Once again, thank you."
The AAR Project Manager, Ron Shanks, was awarded the Public Service Medal in the Queens Birthday Honours for innovation in service to road traffic law.
General<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The campaign received widespread positive media reception, including supportive letters to the editor. Criticism of the campaign was confined to alleged non-delivery of the booklets by the delivery company and Australia Post but even this was shown to be largely unfounded.