Cuts drive road safety adverts on to social media
Stormont cuts have almost halved the cash being spent on road safety advertising - at a time when road accidents will likely increase, a Stormont Minister has warned.
But Environment Minister Mark H Durkan also revealed he is targeting resources via social media at specific groups - young people in particular.
Responding to an Assembly question from DUP MLA Thomas Buchanan, he said: "Regrettably, we traditionally see an increase in the number of road traffic collisions at this time of the year; the festive period.
"The evenings are darker, there are more people on the road, and people are rushing to do shopping and get home and see family in busy traffic conditions.
"I have been working very hard with officials on the launch of a new social media strategy and advertising campaign that specifically focuses on drink-driving, which, again, traditionally occurs more at this time of year."
He said it was going 'live' on social media and is being targeted specifically at young drivers.
Mr Buchanan also asked whether the Minister's Department has any way of measuring the shock factor of the road safety advertisements put out on television
"The DoE ads have often been shocking, and there is scientific research that shows that it does work. It permeates people's consciousness and, most importantly, it has an impact on driver behaviour," Mr Durkan added.
"In saying that, I do not think that every ad has to be a blood-and-guts one.
"Due to huge budget cuts that the Department suffered this year, the amount of money that I have had to spend on road safety advertising has been virtually halved.
"Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and it is due to that that I have looked more at going down the social media route, which also enables us to target certain demographics specifically .
"People who have an interest in cars and things like that - it could be drivers under 25 living in rural areas - can be identified and then targeted with the information.
"Hopefully, we will see the benefits in a reduction in the number of collisions, serious injuries and fatalities on our roads," Mr Durkan added.