2019 Research Project

Factors and frames that shape public discourse around road user safety

Principal Investigator
Seth LaJeunesse
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Co-Principal Investigator
Lucinda Austin
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Interim Report: Shaping the Narrative Around Traffic Injury: A Media Framing Guide for Transportation and Public Health Professionals


Through this proposed research-to-practice project, a UNC team comprised of HSRC researchers and Media and Journalism school scholars seeks to coordinate with local law enforcement, journalists, as well as professionals in public health, planning and engineering, to advance more humane public health framing  surrounding traffic injury. And in this way, we look to catalyze helpful professional and collective response to this persistent health crisis. Goals of this project include:

  • Helping to re-frame media portrayals of serious and fatal traffic crashes as isolated incidents involving wholly responsible road users toward ones that incorporate public health and Safe Systems principles, such as the contextual (e.g., temporal, historical, equity-related, physical) and preventable nature of severe crash outcomes.
  • Designing a theoryand evidence-based resource—in the form of a brief, illustrative guide that helps professionals who shape public discourse around traffic crashes (e.g., new media traffic reporters, public information officers, planners, public health professionals, and engineers) advance a Safe Systems narrative of humanizing crash victims and contextualizing crash injury.
  • Using socio-metric questionnaires to identify socially influential professionals in media, law enforcement, engineering, planning, and public health. 

Project Details

Project Type: Research
Project Status: Active
Start Date: 5-15-2019
End Date: 6-30-2021
Contract Year: Year 3
Total Funding from CSCRS: $86,813