The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), in collaboration with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety and the Partnership for Healthy Cities, reached nearly 1 million people with its November 2019 mass media campaign addressing speeding, according to a post-campaign evaluation released today. “School Girl” was the AMA’s first-ever mass media campaign to address road safety.

Speeding is a key cause of tratfic crashes globally, contributing to the more than 1.35 million deaths on the world’s roads each year. In Accra, 77% of drivers exceed posted speed limits, according to an observational study by Johns Hopkins University. The AMA’s road safety report for 2015 – 2018 recorded 1,812 road crashes for thè year 2018 within the city of Accra.

“We want Accra to be a safe, smart, sustainable and resilient modern city. Regrettably, like other great cities of Africa, we are struggling with a road traffic system, which is killing and disabling many of our citizens” said Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra. Research shows that the causes of road crashes are more behavioral than accidental. Hence. the need for concerted, multi-sectorial effort to combat the menace by changing the attitude of drivers and all road users through multiple mass media campaigns backed with enforcement. We are grateful to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) for assisting the city of Accra to undertake our first mass media campaign on speeding.

To reduce speeding and prevent these deaths on the roads, the AMA partnered with global health organization Vital Strategies, an implementing partner of BiGRS and the Partnership for Healthy Cities to develop the “School Girl campaign.

“Every road traffic crash is preventable and we applaud the AMA for taking the steps needed to reduce the number of deaths on its roads, said Sandra Mullin. Senior Vice President for Policy, Advocacy and Communication at Vital Strategies.

“When run regularly and paired with enforcement, mass media campaigns like the ‘School Girl campaign are critical in changing attitudes and behavior of road users. We are pleased that the evaluation of Accra’s campaign showed positive changes in attitudes toward speeding. It is a tremendous step in the right direction, but more work is still needed to reduce speeding and save lives.”

The campaign featured a public service announcement (PSA) illustrating the deadly consequences of exceeding speed limits, portraying a young girl struck and killed instantly by a speeding driver while on her way to school. “School Girl” aimed to deter speeding to reduce road traffic crashes and save lives.

The campaign ran on television, radio, social media, and was accompanied by

billboards from November 12 to December 18, 2019. Increased speeding enforcement using new speed detection devices ran in parallel during this time period.

Key findings from the evaluation include

  • The campaign message reached more than 980,000 adults in Accra.
  • “School Girl” was highly rated on its message acceptability, comprehension, effectiveness and impact. Among respondents who recalled the campaign, 93% called it effective.
  • The campaign generated concern about speeding and a motivation to obey speed limits. 97% stated that the PSA made them understand the consequences of NOT following speeding rules on their lives and that of others.
  • The campaign guided behavior change among drivers in Accra: 80% of those that saw that PSA reported that they have tried to stop speeding. 74% of the respondents called for an increase in publicity and advertising about road safety.
  • When asked about speeding, those who were aware of the campaign reported more positively. For example, 91% of those who viewed the PSA agreed with the statement: “The faster the speed, the more likely that someone will suffer a serious injury in a crash.”

The post-campaign evaluation findings confirm that road safety mass media campaigns are effective tools in changing the attitudes of drivers and should be undertaken frequently.

“Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death globally for people ages 5-29 years. It is critical that governments take action to prevent this needless loss of life,” said Kelly Larson, Director of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ road safety and Partnership for Healthy Cities initiatives. “The concern for speeding that this campaign generated, and the intention of those who saw the campaign to stop speeding, shows the strength of the city’s commitment to making its roads safer. We hope that other cities will follow Accra’s example.”

The AMA and BIGRS are preparing to undertake another mass media campaign this year to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding and the need to adhere to speeding rules—and call on all road safety stakeholders, media houses, business entities and benevolent organizations as partners in the effort to safeguard the lives of residents in the city and metropolitan area.