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Mobilizing Young Adults Toward Zero Highway Deaths


MDT photo of people looking at sculpture garden of wrecked vehicle parts.

In the last 10 years 2,309 people have died in fatal crashes on Montana roads. Of those, 492 were young Montanans between the ages of 18 and 25 — the demographic with the highest fatality crash rate. T

Those are not insignificant numbers. Today, the Montana Department of Transportation is on a quest to cut the number of all statewide highway deaths to zero with primary focus on seat belt and sober driving education and outreach.

To announce MDT’s “Vision Zero” goal to eliminate death and serious injury on Montana roads, we helped the department plan and execute a media event that not only reached out to Montana media outlets but also directly to the target demographic.

We wanted the event to be more than talking heads. We wanted it to be interactive, to tell a story and to be inspirational, knowing that to reach today’s young adults we’d need to do something beyond getting coverage in the evening news or local newspaper.

Here’s how we did it:

Place: The University of Montana campus.

Attendees: Young adults, crash survivors, media, state and local law enforcement, MDT Director Mike Tooley and team.

Message: Vision Zero. MDT Director Tooley announced the new initiative to reach zero deaths and serious injury on Montana highways. Crash survivors shared how seat belts saved their lives and the lives of their children.

MDT_SculptureGarden_02Interaction: Weeks prior we worked with a local metal artist to design six sculptures using car wreckage — a twisted bumper, banged up car door, shattered windshield and other parts. We called the exhibit the Twisted Metal Sculpture Garden. The sculptures were paired with six audio stories that we recorded with real Montana crash survivors telling their “shattered” or “saved” stories — their real-life stories of loss and life due to the decision to buckle up or not, to drive sober or impaired. To hear these stories, event attendees and garden visitors users simply dialed a phone number on each sculpture’s placard to listen to the accompanying story.

You can also listen to the stories here >

The sculpture garden was revealed at the media event and remained on campus for one week and through commencement events.

MDT_Sculpture_blogimageSocial Media and Beyond: #VisonZeroMT. Along with the new Vision Zero initiative we also introduced a new hashtag. The hashtag was attached to each Twisted Metal Sculpture to encourage viewers to post their own story of loss or survival on Montana roads. The hashtag continues to be used as a tool for MDT, its partners and regular Montanans to educate and inspire us all to always buckle up and always drive sober.

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