17.3 Targeted campaign towards vulnerable categories

This measure aims to raise the risk awareness among particular vulnerable groups (e.g. unaware tourists, photographers, film-makers, YouTubers, "fitness gurus", distracted "mobile zombies", etc.) or to raise awareness about particular problem behaviours (e.g. metal theft, taking "selfies") and to stimulate people’s incentives to take safer actions.
  • Each campaign needs to address a special target group and should be tested on a panel before launching. It is necessary to have this right so the message is clearly addressed. Some examples:
    • Filming or taking photos on railway tracks is both dangerous and illegal”
    • Metal theft is a crime and it can lead to severe injury or death”
    • “Railway tracks are not playgrounds
    • “Taking selfies around raiway tracks is very dangerous”
  • Be aware that there are sometimes groups that are not used to a rail environment and perform unwanted behaviour (e.g. campsite guest). In the Netherlands there is a special campaign started to this target group.
  • There are local issues related to transferability: one targeted campaign maybe relevant at a location but not at another location, or for a different population group.
  • Work with social media influencers to deliver the message to highly vulnerable or target groups. Example from NetworkRail: https://www.thestorycatchers.co.uk/our-work/network-rail
  • Fast decline expected; needs to be repeated for durable effect.
  • Be aware that sometimes in an environment your main language is not the only spoken one. So maybe your text on flyers, billboards or messages in community centres should also be in foreign languages. In this sense, pay special attention to the areas with high ethnic minority populations.
  • Acceptance may depend on the target incidents as well as on the approach chosen to deliver the message. For example, fear appeals (using explicit pictures of crashes, casualties, injuries and blood, and the related emotions of pain, sorrow and grief of victims and relatives) might have contrasted effects depending on the culture and the group.
  • There are also cultural issues. Acceptance can vary widely according to the contents of the campaign and to the culture of the audience. Shock campaigns can be difficult in some countries in acceptance or due to cultural differences. For example, acceptability of a campaign based on fear appeals may differ depending on the country or the age group.
  • Poorly designed campaigns can be counterproductive e.g. regarding suicide. Campaigns might also have the contrary effect of informing about the railway as a means of suicide (for some) rather than dissuading use of the railway as a means of suicide. Be careful with the message “trespassing is dangerous” this could attract possible suicidal persons to the tracks. It is better to address to “the delays caused by trespassers” and “the number of people that are inconvenienced by those delays”.
  • A media campaign has virtually no effect if it is not combined with other measures. It is recommended to reinforce information campaigns by combining them with physical / environmental measures (such as fencing or prohibitive signs), education (e.g. talk at school and at railside factories, leaflets distribution) or supplementing them by incentives (rewards for safe behaviour) or enforcement procedures (such as punishment or police enforcement).
  • Interactions with external elements passing contrasting messages (e.g. action movies) can yield unexpected results.
  • Try to get authority to fine trespassers and communicate about this in the media.
  • A campaign and discussions in the society that leads to preventative measures would give more long term effects.
  • Technologies like websites, mobiles devices etc. may provide new access to targeted audiences. They can also decrease costs related to media coverage.
  • A campaign consisting of environmental intervention (fencing repairing), educational campaign (talk at school and at rail side factories, leaflets distribution) and new warning signs and posters resulted in changing the occurrence of unsafe track crossing behaviour from 65% to 37% for adults and from 47% to 34% for children (Lobb et al., 2001).
  • Increasing the amount of educational activity (Operation Lifesaver) will reduce the number of collisions (Savage, 2006)
  • There is evidence that pedestrian education campaigns have a higher likelihood of success compared to the ones targeted on drivers (Searle, Di Milia, & Dawson, 2012).
  • A media campaign has virtually no effect if it is not combined with other measures like enforcement and/or education (Hoekstra & Wegman, 2011)

last update: 2021-07-02 Print