In what they referred to as their “first big push” on the education side of their Vision Zero work, the Portland Bureau of Transportation launched a road safety media campaign today.
“Every deadly car crash ends two lives,” reads the narrator of a 30-second video (watch it below). “The person who loses their life. And the person who loses the life they had. It’s time to slow down Portland.”
The campaign centers around the idea that more than one life is impacted in a traffic crash. “Where there’s a fatal crash,” said PBOT Director Leah Treat as a press conference in City Hall, with family members of traffic crash victims standing by her side, “There’s more than one victim. The person who died, obviously it’s devasting to their family and their loved ones. There’s also, on the other side, the person who was driving the car that killed someone.”
The video (below) and imagery is based on a collision involving a driver — but the car is invisible.
Treat said that while there’s “some assignation of responsibility” toward the driver, they don’t usually get as much sympathy. “I think there needs to be an understanding that the driver who hits somebody, their life is impacted for the rest of their lives as well,” she continued. “And if we want driver behavior to change we actually have to be doing outreach, engagement and media that talks to drivers about the impacts that fatalities can have on them, their loved ones, and the rest of their life.”
PBOT spent $300,000 on the campaign, which was paid for with funds set-aside form cannabis tax revenue. The budget included production work from advertising agency Borders Perrin Norrander and a media buy to broadcast a short video and graphics through various channels — including a regional commercial spot that will air during tonight’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.
Here’s the 30-second video:
And here are the visuals that will appear on the side of buses throughout the region:
PBOT has also produced a series of GIFs they can use on social media.
Rob Thompson with Borders Perrin Norrander said that the idea to focus on drivers came from Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Captain Mike Crebs. “From talking with Capt. Crebs, we suddenly realized the two sides of the coin and the importance of acknowledging the driver as the person whose behavior we need to change… When Crebs made us realize that that side of the equation is often overlooked, that felt like a really new place for us to go.”
As for removing the car completely, Thompson said it was about trying to make the spot as simple as possible. “We stripped the car away from a car crash. We created a collision with no automobile — because ultimately what this is is a collision of two lives. It’s two existences that hit each other and they are forever changed. One may end, both may end, but no matter what, nothing will be the same.”
Kristi Finney-Dunn lost her son Dustin Finney to a traffic crash in 2011. Now she’s one of the leaders of Families for Safe Streets, an activism and support group for people who have lost loved ones to traffic crashes. Her group was consulted about the campaign and they chose to support it, even though it shines the light on the other side of the windshield. “Maybe they’ll care if they understand that there are consequences for them too,” she shared in an interview after the press conference.
PBOT has been here before. This is probably my fifth or sixth press conference at City Hall in the past 13 years where police, PBOT staff, and families of victims say they’ve had enough. I asked Finney-Dunn if she thinks something will be different this time. “I think they’re going to have to keep it up. If they let it slide.. if they… If they don’t keep it up it’s not going to last.” Given that we have a new Vision Zero Action Plan, I asked her, do you think we have a better footing to make progress now? “I really, just think I can say… I hope so,” she replied.
Finney-Dunn also speaks at Victim Impact Panels — where people who’ve committed crimes are forced to listen to people impacted by them. Finney-Dunn said there’s a speaker who does some of the panels who hit and killed three people with his car. “That’s the speaker who gets the most attention from the audience,” she said, “And I think it’s because they can put themselves in those shoes better. It’s easier for them to see it from that point of view.”
“So given that,” Finney-Dunn continued. “We thought this campaign would be a good idea.”
We posted the video on our Facebook page a few hours ago. Reader Eric Iverson had this to say:
“The phrase ‘ends two lives’ aggravates me as the person who died is very dead. The person who ‘loses the life they had’ often is far from the truth. For example, the ‘I didn’t see them’ excuse has let people off with as little as a traffic ticket in recent Portland crashes causing death or severe injury. So it does not end two lives in a lot of cases. It ends an innocent life, and slightly inconveniences the guilty party.”
PBOT says the campaign will run for two months. In addition to the commercial during the NCAA game tonight, it will run on TriMet buses and in local movie theaters.
This is just one part of PBOT’s Vision Zero campaign. They’ve announced over $40 million in infrastructure safety projects, have deployed several speed cameras on high crash streets, and today’s press conference came less than 48 hours after a new 20 mph residential speed limit went into effect.
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