Buckle Up Campaign a failure

Public Health’s “Buckle Up” campaign failed to increase seatbelt usage among the Mercyhurst community.

According to Thomas Cook, Ph.D., who spearheaded the study as part of his Foundations of Public Health class, there was no change in seat belt use during the two-week observation period. The study observed 1,000 passengers.

The data did not consider driving distance which may be a factor in whether passengers use a seatbelt, Cook said. The campaign is being repeated in March and while driving distance will remain a difficult factor to consider in the data, Cook said the campaign will be tweaked to appeal to more people.

“We plan to keep components that resonated well based on feedback from the campus community and drop those components which did not have a lot of participation, such as the Facebook pledge. We plan to add an incentive component and more aggressive strategies rewarding passengers who are buckled up,” Cook said.

Cook’s class created the campaign as part of an outbreak investigation. They placed signs bearing their tagline “Don’t test your luck, Buckle Up” for drivers entering and exiting Mercyhurst.

The class then analyzed the Mercyhurst population’s seatbelt wearing habits. While the campaign did not yield a positive result in terms of seat belt usage, Cook said his students learned from the project.

“The intent was to develop the materials and pilot components of the campaign at a very low budget of under $200,” said Cook. “[The] students designed a highly visible brand for the campaign and did a great job of designing the core program materials and spreading the word across different media.”

Paige Huggins, a sophomore Public Health major and the student leader of publicity, said that although she felt the fall semester portion of the campaign was successful, there are certain things they can change to make it more effective.

“I will definitely try to get more students involved and have the campaign be a more interactive experience. I’m so excited to see the next part of this project. I hope that it can be another fun experience, and that we see even more participation,” Huggins said.

Cook said he plans on continuing this project because it is good for students to realize the importance of buckling up.

“I think it is important that the campus community know that the data speaks for itself. Not buckling up is the single most important predictor of fatal crashes,” Cook said.