Assessing the nature and effectiveness of communication strategy used by RTSA to improve road safety behaviour among pedestrians and motorists: A case of Lusaka

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Shindano, Juliet, Munguya
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University of Zambia
The number of road traffic accidents (RTAs) have been on the increase in Zambia due to various factors. Pedestrians in residential areas in Lusaka at high risk of RTAs include University of Zambia (UNZA), Misisi-John Laing and Mandevu due to their proximity to busy highways. The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) is a government agency responsible for the road safety matters, in particular, sensitization and education of all road users. This study was aimed at assessing the nature and effectiveness of RTSA’s communication strategy in enhancing awareness, knowledge, attitudes and practices/behaviour (AKAP) on road safety to bring about behavioural change among pedestrians and motorists. The study used qualitative methods by conducting desk reviews, one-to-one interviews and focus group discussions with selected RTSA officers. The study also utilized quantitative methods through a survey of 150 pedestrians and motorists sampled from the three residential areas. The survey found that there are fewer pedestrians and motorists who are aware that RTSA is responsible for road safety education and sensitization functions in comparison to the licensing functions. The study found that RTSA uses annual communication plans as the major strategy in the communication of road safety matters to pedestrians and motorists. RTSA’s communication plans use the multi-channel approach, using three major communication channels, mass media, group and interpersonal. The study has shown that MUVI TV, ZNBC TV 2, ZNBC TV 1, ZNBC Radio 4, ZNBC Radio 2 and ZNBC Radio 1, Daily mail, Post Newspaper and Times of Zambia, were found to be most popular communication channel in the order given. The study further found that songs/ jingles, branded materials, drama, press statements, brochures, roadshows, internet, newsletters, press circular, workshop and press conference found to be most useful methods of communication by pedestrians and motorists, in the order of importance as given. A high proportion of pedestrians and motorists considered crossing traffic highways as being a risky behaviour. Despite this perception, the proportion of residents who use the footbridges regularly was found to be low. The reasons advanced by the residents included, cumbersomeness, fear of heights, fear of being attacked and bad position of the footbridges. The survey also found that the proportion of pedestrians and motorists who use RTSA sources of information on road safety was generally lower than the proportion who are aware of the sources. A small proportion of pedestrians and motorists mentioned having used RTSA sources of information for obtaining knowledge on road safety purposes as compared to licensing use. The results have also shown that pedestrians and motorists are reasonably knowledgeable on how to use the road. However, a large proportion of pedestrians/motorists are not knowledgeable on the correct cyclist behaviour as stipulated in the road safety regulations. There was a small proportion of pedestrians and motorists who perceive that RTSA is doing enough to minimize the number of pedestrians being hit on the traffic highways. The study found that the barriers to communication by RTSA to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists include: Lack of a comprehensive communication strategy by RTSA; Language of communication barrier, which is normally English; Lack of availability and accessibility to road safety education materials; Communication is biased towards motorists; and Poor attitude and perceptions of the public towards road safety matters. A number of interventions to minimize pedestrians being hit on traffic highways next to residential areas were proposed by the pedestrians and motorists such as increased sensitization of communities (pedestrian and motorists) on road safety matters, including use of local languages, use of multi-channel communication mix: road shows, music, advertising on billboards, press conferences etc among others. KEY WORDS: Channels of Communication, Communication Strategy, Group Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Mass Media Communication, Road Safety.
Automobile-Safety Measures , Traffic Safety , Traffic Safety-Study and teaching-Lusaka,Zambia