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Report to Congressional Committees:

United States General Accounting Office:

GAO:

May 2003:

Truck Safety:

Share the Road Safely Program Needs Better Evaluation of Its 
Initiatives:

GAO-03-680:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-03-680, a report to Congressional Committees

Why GAO Did This Study:

From 1992 through 2001, more than 50,000 people were killed in crashes 
involving large commercial trucks.  Although more than 6,800 of these 
fatalities were truck occupants, approximately 40,000 were passengers 
in other vehicles and more than 4,000 were nonmotorists. The 
Department of Transportationís Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration  (FMCSA) conducts a number of truck safety programs, 
including the Share the Road Safely program, whose goal is to educate 
the public about driving safely around large trucks.  GAO examined (1) 
whether the programís initiatives are linked to this goal and (2) how 
FMCSA evaluates its Share the Road Safely program.

What GAO Found:

The Share the Road Safely programís goal is designed to educate the 
motoring public on how to share the road safely with commercial motor 
vehicles.  To accomplish this goal, the program has undertaken a 
number of public education and information dissemination initiatives 
including a series of new initiatives beginning in 2000.  Some 
initiatives, such as incorporating the programís messages into state 
driver education manuals or developing share the road messages 
specifically targeted to certain types of drivers, pedestrians or 
motorcyclists, are clearly linked to the programís goal.  However, for 
a few other initiatives, such as directing program messages to 
elementary schoolchildren, the linkage is less clear.  Research 
currently under way in the Department of Transportation may enable the 
program to link its initiatives to the most significant causes of 
truck/car crashes.  Many highway safety experts agree that public 
education efforts to increase safe driving around large trucks are 
more likely to produce substantial changes in driversí behaviors if 
they are combined with other safety initiatives, such as local law 
enforcement programs.  Share the Road Safely has recently begun to 
pilot test such a program.

FMCSA evaluations of the Share the Road Safely program have provided 
some information about the program but have not convincingly 
demonstrated accomplishment of the programís intended outcomes: 
changes in driversí knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.  FMCSA has 
the opportunity to adopt a new evaluation strategy for its recent 
initiatives, for example, by using evaluation practices adopted by 
other federally sponsored information dissemination programs to 
improve its evaluation of the program.

what GAO Recommends:

GAO recommends that the Department of Transportation (DOT) ensure that 
the Share the Road Safely program initiatives are directly linked to 
the programís goal and establish a systematic process for evaluating 
the effectiveness of the program.  DOT generally agreed with our 
recommendations. 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-680.

To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Kate Siggerud (202)512-2834 or 
siggerudk@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Contents:

Letter:

Results in Brief:

Background:

Many Share the Road Safely Program Initiatives Are Linked to the 
Program's Goal but a Few Lack Clear Linkage:

Evaluations by FMCSA Provided Little Information on the Effectiveness 
of the Share the Road Program:

Conclusion:

Recommendations for Executive Action:

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

Figures:

Figure 1: Number of Vehicle Occupants Killed in Large Truck Crashes by 
Vehicle Type (1992 - 2001):

Figure 2: No-Zones, or Blind Spots, around a Large Commercial Truck:

Figure 3: Share the Road Safely Program Funding (Fiscal Year 1992 - 
2003):

Abbreviations:

DOT: Department of Transportation
FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FHWA: Federal Highway Administration
NHTSA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
TEA-21: Transportation Equity Act for the 21ST Century:

United States General Accounting Office:

Washington, DC 20548:

May 30, 2003:

The Honorable Ernest Istook, Jr.
Chairman
The Honorable John W. Olver
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury,
 and Independent Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives:

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman
The Honorable Patty Murray
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, 
 and General Government
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate:

In 2001, there were 42,116 people killed on our nation's roads, and 
3,033,000 people were injured. About 12 percent (5,082) of the 
fatalities and 4 percent (131,000) of the injuries occurred in 
collisions involving large commercial trucks.[Footnote 1] The majority 
of these crashes were collisions between passenger vehicles[Footnote 2] 
and large commercial trucks; and, in such crashes, the occupants of 
passenger vehicles are more than 15 times more likely to be killed than 
truck occupants. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 
(FMCSA) recently set a goal to cut the fatality rate in large truck-
related crashes by more than 40 percent, from its 1996 level by 2008. 
FMCSA's Share the Road Safely program is designed to assist this effort 
by educating the motoring public on how to share the road safely with 
commercial motor vehicles.[Footnote 3] The program, established in 
1994, initially attempted to publicize the dangers of driving unsafely 
around large trucks to the general public. In 2000, the program 
refocused its efforts toward all highways users with more specific 
messages for targeted audiences including car and truck drivers, senior 
drivers, and new or problem drivers.[Footnote 4]

The House report accompanying the Department of Transportation and 
Related Agencies Appropriations bill for 2003 directed us to evaluate 
the effectiveness of the Share the Road Safely program and submit the 
study to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations.[Footnote 5] 
We examined (1) whether the program's initiatives are linked to its 
goal to educate the public about driving safely in and around large 
commercial trucks and (2) how FMCSA evaluates the program's 
effectiveness.

To determine whether the program's initiatives are linked to its goal, 
we obtained information from FMCSA officials, including representatives 
from Safety Action Programs, the office responsible for Share the Road 
Safely, and other relevant FMCSA offices. We interviewed officials from 
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as 
various external stakeholders and highway safety researchers. We 
reviewed program documents, including budget allocations from 1992 
through 2003, for the Share the Road Safely program and other FMCSA 
safety programs. To determine how FMCSA evaluates its Share the Road 
Safely program, we reviewed evaluations performed by FMCSA as well as 
publications from NHTSA and GAO that describe evaluation criteria 
appropriate for use in evaluating public information dissemination 
programs such as the Share the Road Safely program. We conducted our 
review from January 2003 through May 2003 in accordance with generally 
accepted government audit standards.

Results in Brief:

Several of the Share the Road Safely program's initiatives, such as 
incorporating Share the Road Safely messages into state driver 
education manuals and directing its messages to specific audiences, 
like pedestrians or motorcyclists, appear to be directly linked to the 
program's goal, as established in the Intermodal Surface Transportation 
Efficiency Act of 1991, of educating the motoring public on how to 
share the road safely with commercial motor vehicles. However, the 
linkage between the program goal and a few other program initiatives, 
such as providing the Share the Road Safely message to schoolchildren, 
is not as clear and direct. Research currently under way in the 
Department of Transportation (DOT) may enable FMCSA to direct program 
initiatives to ensure its initiatives are linked to the most 
significant causes of truck/car crashes, such as speeding or unsafe 
lane changes. Many highway safety officials and researchers agree that 
public education efforts alone are unlikely to produce substantial 
changes in drivers' behaviors unless they are coupled with other safety 
initiatives, such as local enforcement programs to increase compliance 
with traffic laws. According to a FMCSA official, although the agency 
has not combined education and enforcement efforts in the past, it 
recently began a pilot of such a combined effort. For example, in 
keeping with this new approach, FMCSA has recently targeted six high-
crash highway corridors to pilot an initiative that will combine local 
outreach through radio, television, and outdoor advertising, safety 
partnerships with local authorities and brochures with targeted police 
activity to deter unsafe driving in and around large trucks.

FMCSA has not evaluated the effectiveness of initiatives implemented 
since 2000, and its evaluations of earlier program initiatives provide 
only limited information. FMCSA has issued three reports about the 
program's earlier initiatives that attempted to measure changes in the 
general public's knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about driving 
around large commercial trucks. These evaluations provide some 
information on the program's activities and on how familiar drivers 
were with some concepts and behaviors promoted by the program, such as 
avoiding driving in large trucks' "blind spots." However, these 
evaluations could not determine the program's effectiveness for the 
following reasons:

* The evaluations relied heavily on self-reports of attitude and 
behavior change that are subject to biased responses.
:

* Because FMCSA did not have a baseline of driver knowledge and 
behavior before program initiatives were implemented, it could not 
determine the extent to which intended changes in behavior occurred.
:

* FMCSA could not determine whether any changes in driving behavior or 
the frequency of car/truck crashes were attributable to program 
initiatives or to other influences.

FMCSA believes that funding pilot program initiatives that are directed 
at specific target audiences (for example, senior citizens) in smaller 
geographic areas will enable FMCSA to more accurately measure the 
initiative's effects on drivers' knowledge, attitude, and behaviors and 
determine whether the program has contributed to reducing the number of 
car/truck crashes. Other federally sponsored information dissemination 
programs similar to the Share the Road Safely program, including some 
sponsored by other parts of DOT, have used various strategies to 
improve their evaluations--such as measuring targeted knowledge, 
attitude, and behavior changes before and after program exposure to 
assess change. FMCSA could use these or similar strategies to enhance 
future evaluations of Share the Road Safely.

We are recommending that the Secretary of Transportation direct FMCSA 
to improve its strategic approach to the Share the Road Safely program 
by linking its activities more directly to its goals and establishing a 
systematic process for evaluating the effectiveness of the program. DOT 
officials commented on a draft of this report and generally agreed with 
our recommendations.

Background:

Although fatalities resulting from crashes involving large commercial 
trucks have decreased in recent years (see fig. 1), this improvement 
may be difficult to sustain as more people and goods are moved 
throughout the nation. From 1992 through 2001, there were 
50,375[Footnote 6] people killed in large truck crashes. Of this total, 
6,811 were large truck occupants while 39,516[Footnote 7] were people 
in other types of vehicles, and 4,048[Footnote 8] were nonmotorists. 
Figure 1 shows the number of passenger vehicle and large truck 
occupants killed in passenger vehicle and large truck collisions from 
1992 through 2001.

Figure 1: Number of Vehicle Occupants Killed in Large Truck Crashes by 
Vehicle Type (1992 - 2001):

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]


Concerned with the number of crashes between passenger vehicles and 
large commercial trucks, Congress recognized the need to educate the 
general motoring public about certain characteristics of large 
commercial trucks and their operation. With the enactment of the 
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, Congress 
directed the Secretary of Transportation to educate the motoring public 
about how to share the road safely with large commercial trucks and 
authorized at least $350,000 for fiscal years 1992 through 1997 for 
this purpose.[Footnote 9]

Through public outreach and education, in the early 1990s, Federal 
Highway Administration (FHWA) began exploring ways to decrease the 
number of passenger vehicle and large commercial truck crashes and 
ultimately reduce injuries and fatalities. FHWA sponsored focus group 
studies conducted with passenger vehicle drivers, the highway safety 
community, and trucking industry officials to determine the concerns of 
the public about large commercial truck safety. Passenger vehicle 
drivers who participated in these group discussions mentioned the size 
and weight of heavy trucks, truck drivers' aggressiveness, effects of 
truck-driver fatigue, and traffic congestion as some safety concerns. 
Passenger vehicle drivers also reported feeling outmatched by the size 
and weight of large commercial trucks and said that truck drivers drive 
too fast, too far, and too many hours without proper rest to be safe. 
They cited the mixing of large commercial trucks and other vehicles in 
congested traffic conditions and inclement weather as major concerns. 
FHWA's analysis of the focus group studies indicated that the number of 
crashes involving passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks might 
be reduced if motorists understood the special characteristics of large 
commercial trucks, such as longer braking distances and larger blind 
spots.

In 1992, in response to Congress' concerns and in support of FHWA's 
goal of reducing highway fatalities, FHWA began to develop a national 
public service highway safety program called "Share the Road" to 
educate passenger vehicle drivers on how to share the road safely with 
large commercial trucks. The Share the Road program was the first 
public information dissemination program intended to alert passenger 
vehicle drivers about blind spots or "no-zones" around a large 
commercial truck in which the truck driver's visibility is limited.

The first phase of the program was popularly known as the "No-Zone 
Campaign." This campaign was designed to increase passenger vehicle 
drivers' awareness of commercial drivers' visibility limitations in an 
effort to influence the passenger vehicle drivers' behavior and thus 
decrease the number of crashes involving passenger vehicles and large 
commercial trucks and, ultimately, reduce fatalities, injuries, and 
property damage. Figure 2 shows no-zones, or blind spots, around a 
large commercial truck.

Figure 2: No-Zones, or Blind Spots, around a Large Commercial Truck:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]


On January 1, 2000, FMCSA was established within DOT pursuant to the 
Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, and its mission was to 
reduce the number and severity of large-truck involved crashes. FMCSA 
became responsible for developing and implementing initiatives for the 
Share the Road program as well as other commercial vehicle safety 
programs. FMCSA changed the focus of the Share the Road program from a 
public outreach initiative emphasizing the No-Zone Campaign to a 
discrete program within its Safety Actions Program Division and renamed 
it "Share the Road Safely." The Share the Road Safely program is 
intended to target all highway users[Footnote 10] to increase their 
awareness about the inherent danger of driving in and around large 
commercial trucks and modify driver behaviors. FMCSA officials believe 
that through education and outreach to specific target audiences, 
highway users will be persuaded to change their behavior with the 
eventual result being a reduction in commercial motor vehicle crashes. 
Consequently, the program has begun educational initiatives directed at 
such discrete audiences as senior drivers, new or problem drivers, 
commercial motor vehicle drivers, school trip planners, and drivers in 
specific geographic areas.

The Share the Road Safely program is a small part of a group of truck 
safety programs administered by FMCSA to reduce large commercial truck-
related injuries and fatalities. In 2003, FMCSA set an overall goal of 
reducing the rate of large commercial truck-related fatalities from the 
1996 rate of 2.8 fatalities per 100 million truck miles traveled to 
1.65 fatalities per 100 million truck miles traveled by 2008.[Footnote 
11] FMCSA programs are intended to contribute to this goal by 
addressing safety in motor carrier operations through identifying and 
enforcing safety regulations that target high-risk carriers and large 
commercial truck drivers, improving safety information systems and 
commercial motor vehicle technologies, strengthening commercial motor 
vehicle equipment and operating standards, and increasing safety 
awareness. According to agency officials, FMCSA coordinates its 
programs with other federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, the 
motor carrier industry, highway safety advocacy groups, and others.

The fiscal year 2003 funding for the Share the Road Safely program 
represents less than 1 percent of FMCSA's total budget. From fiscal 
year 1992 through 2003, about $6.8 million, or an average of $569,000 
per year, was spent on the program.[Footnote 12] Figure 3 illustrates 
the funding for the Share the Road Safely program since its inception 
in fiscal year 1992.

Figure 3: Share the Road Safely Program Funding (Fiscal Year 1992 - 
2003):

[See PDF for image]

Note: TEA-21 directed the Secretary of Transportation to obligate 
$500,000 for each of fiscal years 1998 through 2003 for the Share the 
Road program. However, the program did not receive these funds in 
fiscal year 1998 because the funding had already been committed by the 
time the act was passed in June 1998.

[End of figure]

According to FMCSA officials, the agency partners with public and 
private organizations nationwide to promote the Share the Road Safely 
program's mission, pool safety ideas and resources, and minimize the 
duplication of efforts. For example, FMCSA works with a coalition that 
includes such members as the American Association of Motor Vehicle 
Administrators,[Footnote 13] AAA,[Footnote 14] and the American 
Trucking Associations,[Footnote 15] and state and local agencies. The 
coalition provides FMCSA with feedback on and assistance with the 
program's goal. In addition to these efforts, most Share the Road 
resources are used to hire contractors to develop and implement the 
products and services (for example, maintaining a Web site and 
developing educational materials) for the Share the Road Safely 
program. The contracts for these products and services have ranged from 
$25,000 to $300,000 since 2000 and are generally awarded for 1 year 
periods, but they can be modified and extended with approval from 
FMCSA. Since fiscal year 2000, FMCSA has awarded 13 contracts for 
various products and services for the Share the Road Safely 
program.[Footnote 16]

Many Share the Road Safely Program Initiatives Are Linked to the 
Program's Goal but a Few Lack Clear Linkage:

Although a clear rationale exists for several Share the Road Safely 
initiatives, a few initiatives are not clearly linked to the program's 
safety goal. The program has begun to target specific driving behaviors 
more likely to have a direct safety impact. Finally, public educational 
approaches are generally considered more effective when combined with 
other safety efforts, such as enhanced enforcement of traffic laws, and 
FMCSA is beginning to combine these initiatives in the Share the Road 
Safely program.

A Few Program Initiatives Are Not Clearly Linked to the Program's Goal:

Several of the initiatives in the Share the Road Safely program are 
generally linked to the program's goal, as established in the 
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, to educate 
the public about sharing the road safely with large commercial 
vehicles. Examples of clear links to the program goal includes (1) 
targeting Share the Road Safely messages at specific groups, such as 
new or problem drivers, pedestrians, or motorcyclists; (2) using radio 
and print public service announcements as well as interactive CD-ROMs; 
(3) developing and maintaining a Share the Road Safely Web site that 
provides downloadable information suitable for specific audiences; and 
(4) introducing more information about sharing the road with large 
commercial trucks into state driver education manuals and driver 
training curricula.

Yet not all the program's initiatives are directly linked to its goal. 
For example, in recent years the program has awarded contracts for such 
initiatives as educating school trip planners on using safe bus 
companies for students' field trips and providing the Share the Road 
Safely message to schoolchildren. According to FMCSA officials, these 
initiatives accounted for about $255,000 for fiscal years 2001 through 
2002, or approximately 20 percent of the program's budget for that 
period. According to an FMCSA official, one of the Share the Road 
Safely initiatives--Moving Kids Safely--educates school trip planners 
about how to select safe bus companies to transport students on field 
trips. According to this official, the initiative stresses the 
importance of choosing a charter transportation company that has a 
satisfactory safety record in order to reduce the risk of crashes, 
injuries, and fatalities involving schoolchildren. FMCSA officials 
pointed out that this can change the way bus companies are hired for 
school trips and contribute to the goal of reducing school bus crashes. 
However, it is not clear how the initiative contributes to the 
program's goal of educating the public about sharing the road with 
commercial motor vehicles.

Similarly, according to program officials, FMCSA joined the ongoing 
"Trucker Buddy" initiative, a national program sponsored by the 
trucking industry. The initiative's purpose was to test the 
effectiveness of targeting students at various stages of the public 
education system to determine how much the children had learned about 
the safety issues concerning large commercial trucks, to improve their 
knowledge of the truck driving profession, and to assess whether this 
information was communicated to their parents. The initiative included 
such activities as truckers visiting elementary school classrooms and 
students establishing pen-pal relationships with truckers. While these 
activities may prove to have some long-term effect on the children's 
behavior when they become drivers, or may have affected their parents' 
driving behaviors, the connection between the initiative and the goal 
of educating the motoring public is indirect. According to FMCSA 
officials, FMCSA's participation in this joint initiative ended in 
March 2003.

Program Currently Targets More Specific Driver Behaviors than in 
Earlier Phase:

Research conducted in the late 1990s enabled FMCSA to broaden the Share 
the Road program beyond the No-Zone Campaign to include other 
initiatives related to sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. 
The driving behaviors targeted by the pre-2000 Share the Road program 
were not sufficiently specific to allow drivers to take effective 
actions to reduce crashes. Because police reports cited the behavior of 
passenger vehicle drivers in crashes more frequently than the behavior 
of large commercial truck drivers, Share the Road initially emphasized 
its "no-zone" theme and focused its efforts on passenger vehicle 
drivers. However, subsequent research sponsored by FHWA concluded that, 
at most, only 35 percent of fatal passenger vehicle and large 
commercial truck collisions are attributable to passenger vehicles 
traveling in the no-zone. According to FMCSA officials, since 2000 the 
Share the Road Safely program has recognized the need to shift its 
focus from a "no-zone" approach to one that better addresses the causes 
of passenger vehicle and large commercial truck collisions in order to 
develop stronger links between Share the Road Safely program goal and 
its initiatives. A 1999 FHWA report concluded that "more comprehensive 
data on the causes of passenger vehicle and large commercial truck 
crashes of all severities would enhance FHWA's ability to develop 
effective countermeasures and prevent future crashes." Since then, 
FMCSA and NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis have 
begun a Large Truck Crash Causation Study to determine the causes and 
associated factors contributing to serious large commercial truck 
crashes so that agencies within DOT and others can implement effective 
countermeasures to reduce the occurrence and severity of such crashes. 
This is the first national study of its kind and is designed to code 
all factors that might be crash related for later analysis. FMCSA 
expects to release the study's database to the public early in 2005.

Successful Initiatives Combine Educational Outreach with Local 
Enforcement Efforts:

Highway safety researchers and safety advocates we interviewed agreed 
that attempts to modify the behavior of drivers are more effective when 
educational approaches are combined with enforcement efforts. This 
conclusion is supported by the evaluation of past educational efforts 
to change driver behavior, in particular efforts to reduce drunk 
driving or increase safety belt usage.[Footnote 17] For this reason, 
according to a NHTSA official, NHTSA public information campaigns are 
frequently combined with well-publicized local police activities to 
enforce compliance with traffic ordinances prohibiting behaviors such 
as driving while impaired or driving without a safety belt.

FMCSA recently began an initiative that would link educational outreach 
with enforcement. It plans to pilot test the effectiveness of combining 
Share the Road Safely messages with local outreach and enforcement 
initiatives. The pilot test will include outreach material, such as 
outdoor advertising and brochures, to educate and increase the 
awareness of passenger vehicle drivers on roads that have a 
disproportionately high number of large commercial truck crashes. The 
primary emphasis will be on the inability of large trucks to stop as 
quickly as cars and the hazard created when cars cut in front of trucks 
on the highway. The pilot will also emphasize to large commercial truck 
drivers the need for greater patience and defensive driving in these 
high crash corridors. In June 2003, FMCSA plans to pilot test these 
Share the Road Safely messages in conjunction with enhanced state-level 
enforcement of traffic violations, such as aggressive driving and 
tailgating in six corridors throughout the country that have a high 
volume of large commercial truck crashes. According to a FMCSA 
official, as part of this initiative, FMCSA will measure the relative 
safety improvements in these high-volume, truck crash corridors in 
order to identify effective safety strategies that could lead to the 
development of community-based programs to reduce the number of crashes 
between large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles.

Evaluations by FMCSA Provided Little Information on the Effectiveness 
of the Share the Road Program:

A program's effectiveness can be determined by assessing how far a 
program has progressed toward achieving its intended outcomes. FMCSA 
has attempted to measure the effectiveness of some of the program's 
initiatives, but these evaluations provide only limited information on 
the program's success in changing driver behavior. FMCSA has not 
attempted to evaluate the Share the Road Safely program since 2000; 
however, it has taken steps that may help it improve its evaluations of 
the program's effectiveness in the future. In addition, practices used 
by other entities both within and outside DOT to evaluate information 
dissemination programs illustrate strategies that FMCSA could use to 
improve its evaluations.

Program Evaluation Uses Objective Measures to Examine the Effectiveness 
of a Program's Contributions to Short-Term, Intermediate, or Long-Term 
Outcomes:

A program evaluation is a systematic process that uses objective 
measures to analyze how well a program is achieving its goals. In a 
recent report,[Footnote 18] we noted that articulating the logic--or 
strategy--of an information dissemination program like Share the Road 
Safely could help the agency identify expected short-term, 
intermediate, or long-term outcomes and how to measure them. A clearly 
stated program strategy that articulates how a program's initiatives 
are expected to achieve its desired goals enables the program's 
managers to measure activities (for example, the number of TV 
advertisements broadcast or workshops held); outputs (for example, the 
portion of the target audience exposed to TV advertisements or 
participating in workshops); and outcomes--the changes effected in the 
target audience by the program. Many programs routinely track their 
activities and outputs; however, an outcome program evaluation[Footnote 
19] assesses actual changes in the audience's knowledge, attitude, and 
behavior that lead to an improvement in the conditions the program was 
designed to improve. Such an evaluation measures the extent to which a 
program has achieved its intended short-term, intermediate, and long-
term outcomes.

For an information dissemination program, short-term outcomes would 
typically include gains in the audience's knowledge and changes in its 
attitude about the issue addressed by the program. For Share the Road 
Safely, short-term outcomes would include positive changes in 
motorists' or pedestrians' beliefs and positive reactions to the 
program's safety messages. Intermediate outcomes would include positive 
changes in the audience's behavior, such as not cutting in front of 
large trucks or tailgating. Long-term outcomes represent the ultimate 
objective of the program. For the Share the Road Safely program, a 
long-term outcome would be contributing to a reduction in the number of 
fatal collisions involving large commercial trucks and other vehicles 
or pedestrians. Changes in this outcome, while easy to measure, can be 
difficult to ascribe to the program because alternative explanations, 
such as improvements in the design of trucks and other vehicles, safety 
improvements in roadway design, or safety initiatives of other FMCSA 
safety programs can also be credited with contributing toward any 
progress.

We recently reviewed a number of federally sponsored information 
dissemination programs, including efforts to enhance compliance with 
environmental regulations and reduce youth drug use.[Footnote 20] We 
identified several strategies that were used to improve the evaluations 
of such programs. They included such practices as:

* developing common measures for national evaluations,

* comparing before-and-after reports to assess change,

* using statistical methods to limit external influences, and

* adjusting the wording of survey questions to reduce potential bias.

The programs we reviewed were substantially more costly efforts than 
the initiatives conducted for Share the Road Safely program and 
consequently their evaluations were correspondingly more extensive. 
However, the strategies these programs developed to improve their 
evaluations can be scaled appropriately to smaller initiatives like 
those in the Share the Road Safely program.

Evaluations of the Share the Road Program Did Not Fully Measure the 
Program's Outcomes:

FMCSA has issued three reports[Footnote 21] about the Share the Road 
program's progress and initiatives. In 1997 and 1999, FMCSA reported on 
the program's progress toward achieving its goal and concluded that the 
program was effective in communicating the dangers inherent in large 
commercial truck interaction with passenger vehicles and on providing 
useful information on safe driving behaviors for the target audience. 
FMCSA also reported that since 1994, the program has made significant 
accomplishments in implementing its planned activities. For example, 
Share the Road messages were seen and heard throughout the country on 
billboards, radio, and television and in schools and driver education 
classes.

In 2000, FMCSA issued a report that addressed changes in drivers' 
knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors while driving in the vicinity of 
large trucks as a result of its Share the Road initiatives to that 
point. The agency surveyed 1,100 licensed drivers and found that 58 
percent of the respondents had seen or heard the phrase "Share the 
Road"; and 59 percent said they changed their behavior when they 
learned about some of the special characteristics of large trucks, such 
as longer braking distances and larger blind spots. However, FMCSA 
could not directly link these behavior changes to the Share the Road 
program. Only 13 percent of respondents had seen or heard the phrase 
"No-Zone"--the major focus of the program's initiatives at that time.

Although these studies shed some light on the extent of the Share the 
Road program's outputs, they did not fully measure the program's 
outcomes. The studies provide some information on the initiatives the 
program has sponsored and on drivers' familiarity with some concepts 
and behaviors promoted by the program. They shed little light on the 
short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes for three reasons. 
First, FMCSA's evaluations relied heavily on self-reports of the target 
audience's attitude and behavior change that were highly subject to 
positively biased responses; that is, respondents are likely to provide 
socially desirable responses.[Footnote 22] For example, when a 
positive-sounding program such as "Share the Road" is mentioned, 
respondents are likely to report being familiar with and heeding its 
message.[Footnote 23] Second, because no baseline of driver knowledge 
and behavior prior to the program had been established, FMCSA could not 
determine the extent to which any changes in these intended short-term 
outcomes actually occurred.[Footnote 24] Third, if changes did occur, 
FMCSA had no way of knowing whether these changes were the result of 
program activities or other influences.[Footnote 25]

Other Methods for Evaluating Information Dissemination Programs Exist:

There are other methods that can be used to assess the effectiveness of 
information dissemination programs such as Share the Road Safely. For 
example, the Office of National Drug Control Policy used a media 
campaign to counteract images that were perceived as glamorizing or 
condoning drug use. Under the direction of the National Institute on 
Drug Abuse, a contractor conducted a national evaluation of the 
campaign. The evaluation surveyed households in the targeted markets to 
assess advertisement awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, 
including drug use, in a representative sample of youths and their 
parents or other caretakers. The evaluation could not compare its 
sample with a control group that had not been exposed to the media 
campaign because the campaign ran nationally. Therefore, the evaluation 
used a "dose-response" design to measure the degree of respondents' 
exposure to the campaign and assess whether adoption of the desired 
attitudes and behaviors was positively correlated with their exposure.

The experiences of other administrations within DOT, such as NHTSA, 
could also help FMCSA in its evaluations of the Share the Road Safely 
program. FMCSA officials acknowledged that NHTSA possesses expertise in 
developing and evaluating information dissemination programs aimed at 
improving drivers' safety consciousness and driving behaviors. For 
example, in May 2001, NHTSA conducted a regional "Click It or Ticket" 
campaign in several southeastern states to increase safety belt use 
through media outreach combined with intense state-level enforcement of 
safety belt use laws. Evaluation of the campaign found an increase in 
safety belt use that was correlated with the amount of advertisements 
publicizing the campaign and consequent public awareness of the 
heightened enforcement activities.

FMCSA Expects to Perform More Meaningful Evaluations of the Share the 
Road Safely Program in the Future:

FMCSA officials told us that they have performed no evaluation of the 
Share the Road Safely program since 2000. However, they also told us 
that they recognize the need for improved evaluation of the program's 
outcomes and that this was one factor considered in the refocus of the 
program beginning in 2000. Prior evaluations had attempted to measure 
the national penetration of the Share the Road program message, 
particularly its no-zone message. Because their post-2000 strategy has 
emphasized specific target groups or geographic areas, officials expect 
that they will be better able to measure the effectiveness of focused 
pilot tests and determine the relative effectiveness of different 
initiatives before expanding them or offering them as models for state 
or local emulation. FMCSA officials pointed to the combined education/
enforcement initiative planned for six corridors with high numbers of 
truck crashes as a recent example of this more targeted approach that 
they expect will allow them to make more meaningful evaluations of 
changes in driver behavior and, ultimately, in car/truck crash 
frequency. However, because none of the pilot initiatives undertaken 
during the post-2000 Share the Road Safely program has been completed, 
FMCSA has no outcome measures to assess the effectiveness of the 
program.

Conclusion:

The Share the Road Safely program currently consists of a number of 
relatively new pilot initiatives in various stages of implementation. 
These initiatives are designed to contribute to FMCSA's goal of 
reducing the fatality rate associated with large commercial vehicles; 
however, we found that in some cases their link to the program's goal 
of educating the public about driving safely around large commercial 
vehicles was tenuous. Given that findings from DOT's research--which 
may help identify specific behaviors contributing to car/truck crashes-
-will soon be available and that FMCSA's pilot initiatives are still 
not fully implemented, FMCSA has an opportunity to ensure that the 
initiatives are organized into a program strategy that explicitly links 
them to the program's overall goal.

In addition, FMCSA has not evaluated the effectiveness of Share the 
Road Safely since 2000. We recognize that the program's relatively 
small budget demands that its evaluation activities be scaled 
appropriately to the size of its initiatives. Yet it is important that 
FMCSA incorporate the best evaluation practices that are available from 
federal and other sources to the extent practicable to ensure that the 
agency does not expend its limited resources on initiatives of 
uncertain or unknown effectiveness. The program's shift to more limited 
pilot initiatives offers the opportunity for appropriately scaled 
evaluations. More rigorous evaluations than those conducted in the past 
could be used to enhance FMCSA's ability to direct its resources to 
more cost-effective initiatives that are clearly linked to the 
program's goal.

Recommendations for Executive Action:

To ensure that FMCSA's Share the Road Safely program initiatives 
contribute to the agency's goal to reduce the number of collisions 
between large commercial trucks and other highway users, we recommend 
that the Secretary of Transportation direct the FMCSA administrator to:

* develop an explicit program strategy that clearly and directly links 
FMCSA's Share the Road Safely program initiatives to its goal and uses 
the results of the Large Truck Crash Causation Study as they become 
available, as well as other relevant highway safety data, in order to 
identify specific behaviors that contribute to passenger vehicle and 
large commercial truck crashes, thus more effectively targeting the 
limited resources of the Share the Road Safely program; and

* establish a systematic strategy for evaluating the Share the Road 
Safely program's initiatives that makes greater use where practical of 
DOT's experience in designing and evaluating information dissemination 
programs to enhance highway safety.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

DOT officials reviewed a draft of this report and generally agreed with 
our recommendations. They also made some technical comments that we 
have incorporated into this report as appropriate.

We are sending copies of this report to congressional committees and 
subcommittees with responsibilities for transportation and the 
Secretary of Transportation. We will make copies available to others 
upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on 
the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact either Robert White at whitere@gao.gov or me at 
siggerudk@gao.gov. Alternatively, we may be reached at (202) 512-2834. 
Key contributors to this report were Sally Gilley, Brandon Haller, 
Octavia Parks, Jason Schwartz, and Susan Michal-Smith.

Katherine Siggerud
Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues:

Signed by Katherine Siggerud:

FOOTNOTES

[1] A large commercial truck is defined as a truck with gross weight 
rating greater than 10,001 pounds.

[2] For the purpose of this report, we are using the term passenger 
vehicle(s) to include cars, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, 
vans, and motorcycles. Passenger vehicles have a gross weight rating 
less than 10,001 pounds.

[3] "Commercial motor vehicles" includes buses as well as trucks, but 
nearly all the program's initiatives have addressed driving behavior 
around trucks. In this report, we use the term "truck" unless buses are 
explicitly included in a specific program initiative.

[4] Before 2000, the program was called "Share the Road." Since 2000, 
FMCSA has used the term "Share the Road Safely" in part to indicate 
this shift in strategy. In this report, we generally use the term 
"Share the Road Safely," except where it is necessary to distinguish 
the pre-2000 program from its successor program.

[5] H.R. Rep. No. 107-722, at 104 (2002).

[6] This figure includes passengers in cars, light trucks, large 
commercial trucks, and on motorcycles, and nonmotorists but excludes 
bus passengers and those fatalities classified by FMCSA as "other/
unknown."

[7] This figure includes passengers in cars and light trucks, and on 
motorcycles but excludes bus passengers and those fatalities classified 
by FMCSA as "other/unknown."

[8] This figure includes pedestrians and pedalcyclists but excludes 
those fatalities classified by FMCSA as "other/unknown."

[9] In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-
21) included the same requirement to educate the motoring public on how 
to share the road safely with commercial motor vehicles, but TEA-21 
authorized at least $500,000 to be appropriated from the Highway Trust 
Fund for fiscal years 1998 through 2003.

[10] Include pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of commercial 
vehicles, cars, motorcyclists, and recreational vehicles.

[11] In 1999, DOT had set a goal of reducing large commercial truck-
related fatalities by 50 percent, from 5,380 to 2,690, by the year 
2010. According to FMCSA officials, the agency revised its goal to 
better align it with the DOT Highway Safety performance goal and FHWA 
and NHTSA measures.

[12] From fiscal year 1992 through fiscal year 1999, the program's 
initiatives were funded primarily in the form of grants through the 
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. However, since fiscal year 
2000 the program's budget has come primarily as a $500,000 annual "pass 
through" funding from NHTSA; other funding--about $125,000 annually--
comes through funding from the Research and Technology Office. 

[13] The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators is a tax-
exempt, nonprofit organization that works to develop model programs in 
motor vehicle administration, police traffic services, and highway 
safety. 

[14] AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association, is a 
not-for-profit, tax-paying federation of 77 motor clubs serving 46 
million members in the United States and Canada.

[15] American Trucking Associations, Inc., is the national trade 
association of the trucking industry.

[16] FMCSA officials told us that they did not have contract 
information for fiscal years 1992 through 1999.

[17] U.S. General Accounting Office, Motor Vehicle Safety: 
Comprehensive State Programs Offer Best Opportunity for Increasing Use 
of Safety Belts, GAO/RCED 96-24 (Washington, D.C.: Jan 3, 1996); U.S. 
General Accounting Office, Highway Safety: Effectiveness of State .08 
Blood Alcohol Laws, GAO/RCED-99-179 (Washington, D.C.: June 23, 1999). 
See also "Education Alone Won't Make Drivers Safer," Status Report: 
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 36:5 (May 19, 2001); Adrian K. 
Lund and Allan F. Williams, "A Review of the Literature Evaluating the 
Defensive Driving Course," Accident Analysis and Prevention 17:6 
(1985); Carolyn B. Liban et al., "The Canadian Drinking-Driving 
Countermeasure Experience," Accident Analysis and Prevention 19:3 
(1987); James B. Jacobs, Drunk Driving, An American Dilemma (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1989).

[18] U.S. General Accounting Office, Program Evaluation: Strategies for 
Assessing How Information Dissemination Contributes to Agency Goals, 
GAO-02-923 (Washington, D.C.: September 2002).

[19] U.S. General Accounting Office, Performance Measurement and 
Evaluation: Definitions and Relationships, GAO/GGD-98-26 (Washington, 
D.C.: April 1998).

[20] GAO-02-923.

[21] No-Zone Campaign Goals and Activities Summary Report (March 1997), 
Share the Road Campaign Research Study Final Report (June 1999), U.S. 
Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of 
Motor Carrier and Highway Safety; and No-Zone Campaign Assessment 
(October 2000) U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier 
Safety Administration.

[22] GAO-02-923.

[23] The fact that 58 percent of respondents reported being familiar 
with "Share the Road," but only 13 percent were familiar with "No-
Zone"--the program's primary initiative--suggests the likely influence 
of a positive bias.

[24] The Trucker Buddy program is a small exception. As part of the 
program, elementary schoolchildren were tested on their knowledge of 
trucks before and after instruction on the subject. They demonstrated a 
21 percent improvement. 

[25] Other similar programs, such as those sponsored by trucking 
organizations, automobile associations, and insurance companies, 
strive for goals similar to those in FMCSA's Share the Road Safely 
program. These organizations and associations have programs that 
specifically address the needs of passenger and commercial vehicle 
drivers. 

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