Effects of tailored messaging on cell phone use avoidance while driving through highway work zones: Application of the risk perception attitude framework
Cell phone use while driving is one of the commonest distracted driving behaviors that causes fatal crashes, and drivers are more likely to use their cell phones in work zones because of slow-moving traffic. The road safety campaign literature suggests that persuasive messages can positively influence safe driving behaviors leading to a reduction in crashes. Thus, this dissertation, guided by the risk perception attitude (RPA) framework, sought to examine how tailored messaging could serve as an effective communication strategy to promote positive attitudes and behavioral intentions in the context of cell phone use avoidance while driving through highway work zones. Findings from two studies, using a college student sample and a national sample of US young adults between 18 and 24 years old, revealed that the RPA framework likely does not serve as a useful audience segmentation strategy in this context because an overwhelming majority of participants (about 87%) belonged to the responsive group. A tailored messaging approach did not influence cell phone use avoidance while driving attitudes and intentions among the young adults because the majority of participants (70%) felt the messages were not designed uniquely for them and might not be personally relevant to them. However, the majority of participants (62%) reported that highway work zone safety was an important topic they would want to receive future messaging about because messages about this topic would help to save lives and protect public safety, drastically reduce crashes in highway work zones, and promote safe driving behaviors in highway work zones. Participants who were aware of the existence of state laws banning cell phone use while driving reported slightly higher attitudes toward and intentions to engage in safe driving behaviors compared to those who were not aware of the existence of such state laws. This dissertation suggests that instead of creating messages to raise risk perceptions and enhance efficacy perceptions, informing the young adult population in the US about the existence of laws banning cell phone use while driving might be an effective means to discourage them from using their cell phones while driving through highway work zones. By extending the RPA framework as an audience segmentation strategy, this dissertation also proposes a responsive group classification framework which could serve as a useful audience segmentation strategy in this study context to classify audiences into four groups to effectively tailor messages to them.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- West Lafayette