Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of the Arts, English and Media

Abstract

Research studies suggest that audience-focused road safety campaigns based on scholarly research and professionally designed are a significant element in road safety strategies. Well designed campaigns have a positive impact on minimising road accidents and their consequences especially when they are integrated with law enforcement interventions. For a long time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), however, policy makers and road safety authorities have depended solely on law enforcement to counter rising trends in fatal accidents. Law enforcement, however, has not been effective in achieving a long-term downwards turn in road safety violations and serious accidents. Since 2000 there has been a shift in the way of thinking about road safety policies and strategies. Along with law enforcement strategies, road safety campaigns are now increasingly relied on as significant interventions in KSA. This research was prompted by the observation that these campaigns do not appear to have had a marked impact on fatality and injury rates on the KSA roads. On the other hand, professionally designed and audience-focused road safety campaigns are a significant part of road safety strategies in New South Wales (NSW). There, authorities have reduced road accidents by 33 percent since 2002, and road accidents are responsible for only 0.79 percent of the total deaths in NSW, compared with 7 percent in KSA (Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency 2012; Attorney General and Justice 2013 p 2; Road and Maritime Services [RMS] 2012a p 37). This comparative study examines the road safety campaign formation process in NSW Australia and Riyadh province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with emphasis on the theoretical knowledge and pragmatic principles which inform campaign policy authorities, designers and producers in developing road safety campaigns to communicate effectively with target audiences. The road safety campaign formation process is examined from a producers’ perspective which has been largely neglected in studies of campaign formation.

A mix of qualitative methods was adopted in this study. Archival research and semiotic analysis was relied on to analyse advertisements from four case studies of road safety campaigns in KSA and NSW. A series of interviews were conducted with stakeholders involved in the campaign formation process. Thirty three semi-structured interviews were conducted with policy makers, academics, police officers, campaign advertising developers and designers in both settings. This comparative, empirical research was designed to provide an understanding of the decision making and application of theoretical and other knowledge producers brought to the development and delivery of campaigns including those selected as case studies.

Significant differences in campaign formation processes in KSA and NSW have been found by this research. These differences included processes of identifying and selecting target audiences, the communicative address of advertising content, institutional arrangements and the delivery of campaigns. It was discovered that national policy priorities in KSA resulted in campaigns that were directed at a general undifferentiated national audience, and usually combined an incompatible set of national security and road safety objectives. These competing priorities resulted in advertising content that was vague, at times ambiguous, pitched at awareness rather than behaviour change, and neglected to select and target groups most closely linked to risky behaviour on the roads.

In NSW, it was discovered that formation teams set appropriate objectives and identified and selected target audiences in a way that forged a much closer link between road safety priorities, communicative address and delivery. It was discovered that while NSW teams were aware of the diversity of the NSW population and relevant target audiences, formation teams gave insufficient attention to modes of reception among diverse audiences and tended to work off or translate a dominant culture model as default rather than develop culturally appropriate and nuanced advertising content more likely to persuade diverse target audiences to change behaviour.

The perspective in this research on understanding the formation process of road safety campaigns from the producers’ perspective, and on the analysis of campaigns as directed textual events and complex development processes makes an important contribution to the academic understanding and comparative analysis of road safety campaigns.

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