Staff from the Children’s Safety Network (CSN) in EDC’s Health and Human Development Programs (HHD) have created education resources especially designed to prevent traffic safety deaths among Latinos. While motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for Latinos ages 1-34 and Latino pedestrians have higher per capita death rates than the general U.S. population, few effective educational materials are available in Spanish.
As a result of HHD’s efforts, local, state, and national professionals now have guidelines and models that they can use as they develop traffic safety education materials for Latinos. “There is no other resource available that provides this type of planning and implementation information, and these guidelines can help ensure that materials created for Latinos are effective,” according to Erica Streit-Kaplan, HHD Project Manager.
To encourage the development of effective traffic safety materials for the growing Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society funded HHD to implement a project called Educacion de seguridad en el transito (EST)/ Education in Traffic Safety.
The EST project has two products: Guidelines for Developing Traffic Safety Educational Materials for Spanish-Speaking Audiences and a fotonovela. Guidelines helps developers create culturally- and linguistically-appropriate traffic safety educational materials. The document addresses all aspects of planning, creating, disseminating, and evaluating educational materials on the topic.
“TheGuidelines developed as a result of the partnership among EDC, NHTSA, the FIA Foundation, and the AAA Foundation are an invaluable resource to traffic safety organizations seeking to enhance their education efforts within the Latino community,” according to AAA Foundation President and CEO, Peter Kissinger. “In order to be effective, educational materials really need to focus on and speak specifically to the defined audience and these Guidelines will enable traffic safety organizations to do just that.”
Robin Mayer, Chief of the Office of Consumer Information for NHTSA, agrees that Guidelines is an important document for program planners. “NHTSA is particularly pleased with the Guidelines because of the rigor with which they were created,” according to Mayer. “By following the well-researched and -tested steps found in the Guidelines, local communities will be more successful in reaching Spanish-speaking audiences with traffic safety messages. NHTSA is proud to have been part of the development of this much-needed publication, and will be using it as we continue to develop materials for a Spanish-speaking audience.”
The fotonovela, or photo-based educational booklet, is a tool that has been effective in teaching Latino audiences about a variety of health issues. The HHD booklet, created for a Massachusetts community and modified for a national audience, uses picture stories to demonstrate appropriate driving and pedestrian safety behaviors and is designed for people of all literacy levels.
“It is critical to public safety to address driving and pedestrian safety with Latino populations, but a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to prevention does not adequately meet the needs of this population,” says Streit-Kaplan. “Simply translating existing materials into Spanish is not effective. Materials should be developed in Spanish, paying attention to the cultural norms, preferences, history, and experience of Latino populations. For instance, an item created for Native-born Americans may assume a knowledge about driving laws that newly-arrived immigrants are not familiar with.”
A key step in ensuring that the fotonovela was appropriate for the target audience was running focus groups with Latinos, both locally and nationwide. CSN conducted three focus groups with Latinos in Western Massachusetts, AAAFTS conducted national material evaluation with groups of Latinos around the country, and two national evaluation agencies checked to make sure the traffic safety information was accurate.
EST staff had professional connections in the target community, helping to secure supporters and volunteers for the focus groups, which were facilitated by bilingual, bicultural staff. “Oftentimes, focus groups are overlooked and the final product can lack acceptance and credibility in the target community. Before we ran the focus groups we had some pre-conceived ideas about the best ways to market the safety message to Latinos that our focus groups showed were inaccurate. Conducting focus groups at different stages of the materials development really helped fine tune our ideas,” Viviana Catano-Merino, Research Assistant for HHD says.
“We hope these two resources will assist program planners in creating accurate, relevant, and appropriate traffic safety materials for Latinos, and that the lessons can be adapted by those working on an array of educational programs for various audiences,” says Streit-Kaplan.
CSN, AAA, and NHTSA are ensuring the documents are widely available. In addition to being accessible online and in hardcopy, the partners are distributing the documents at relevant professional meetings, conducting targeted mailings to program planners who create traffic safety materials, and mailing them widely to state highway safety offices, national Latino organizations, and AAA clubs.
Originally published on October 1, 2006