The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a program that every state should be considering: TACT (Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks) is designed to highlight the dangers posed by aggressive car and truck drivers. Utah is not yet a TACT state but here is how we can get started.
The TACT program relies on three key components to be effective: communications, enforcement and evaluation. Here are the guidelines proposed for the program:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released Guidelines for Implementing a High-visibility Traffic Enforcement Program to Reduce Unsafe Driving Behaviors Among Drivers of Passenger and Commercial Motor Vehicles to reduce unsafe driving behaviors among drivers of passenger and commercial motor vehicles. The guidelines draw on examples and lessons learned from the successful TACT demonstration program in Washington State. In addition to the guidelines, FMCSA describes the key components for implementing TACT and encourages States to use this information when planning for their high-visibility traffic enforcement program. When developing a TACT program, it is essential for States to create an action plan that includes sub-plans for enforcement, communications and evaluation as well as a catalog of the resources needed to fully implement the program.
The program includes a planning component which should be completed before implementation:
TACT pre-planning activities include recruiting members of the project team, identifying the problem to address, establishing the goals of the program, and planning the design. The team should have knowledge and experience in project management, research, communications, and finance. Problem identification begins with a review of commercial motor vehicle crash and causation data. This review can identify particular types of crashes, roadways on which specific types of crashes occur, groups that might be overrepresented in crash statistics, times of the day when more crashes occur, and other factors that might affect enforcement activities.
Goal setting depends on many considerations:
- Funding and other in-kind contributions
- Types of behaviors identified for citations
- Geographic area for the program
- Participation by enforcement agencies and other stakeholders
- Delineation of media markets
Program design identifies all aspects of the campaign to increase public awareness and the effectiveness of the enforcement to change behaviors. The key program design issues include selecting the violations and unsafe practices for which car and truck drivers will receive citations; identifying the roadways where the citations will be given; determining the time periods for the program activities; planning for the law officers’ training, coordination, and feedback; determining the number of enforcement waves; documenting the processes, and more.
The three elements are then spelled out in detail:
Paid and/or earned media activities can help States increase awareness among passenger and truck drivers of proper safety behaviors and of the heightened risk of receiving a ticket for a violation. FMCSA recommends that States consider including the following communications activities in their TACT program:
- Paid Mass Media: Radio placements during major drive times, TV spots and print ads in the daily newspapers of the intervention areas can help deliver TACT messages to motorists.
- Earned Media: News coverage on local TV and in newspapers is also a good way to increase TACT program awareness. Press conferences are effective in generating earned media. Posters, banners and flyers can be donated and distributed by local businesses during the enforcement period.
- Specialized Materials: Materials such as road signs in TACT program intervention areas and truck wraps with messages such as "Leave More Space" can inspire safer driving behaviors and convey enforcement messages to car and truck drivers.
- Web-based Outreach: Posting information about a State TACT program along with information and resources to help promote safe driving behaviors can help educate motorists on how to share the road safely with trucks. E-newsletters or announcements to safety partners and local law enforcement organizations can help keep all parties informed of best practices during the enforcement period.
As part of TACT program design, a State should gather relevant crash and fatality data to identify high-risk areas. These are the areas where a TACT program might have maximum impact. Based on the resources available, the State should select one or more intervention areas where enforcement and communications will be applied. Each State should develop its own enforcement strategy based on resources and the selected areas. Consideration should be given to the timing, frequency and visibility of the enforcement efforts. It is also important for a State to develop viable enforcement tactics that cover which departments will be involved and the methods to be used to identify and stop dangerous drivers.
The evaluation plan should detail how the TACT research plan will be determined—data collection methods, segments, and measurement criteria. Typically, TACT program administrators will wish to measure changes in awareness and behavior associated with the interventions brought to bear during the enforcement period(s). Evaluation measures can include crash counts, observations of unsafe driving behaviors, surveys of driver attitudes, and knowledge and recall of program messages and themes. States are encouraged to collect multiple waves of data to highlight trends across the intervention periods. When evaluating a TACT program, it is also beneficial to collect data in comparison areas with similar crash rates. These "control" areas will not have implemented a TACT enforcement period.
Utah should make the commitment and jump on the TACT bandwagon.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.