Ice and Snow...Take It Slow

Kim Linsenmayer
Clear Roads Administrator
CTC & Associates LLC
Madison, Wisconsin

With the help of volunteer public information officers and winter maintenance professionals around the country, the Clear Roads Pooled Fund Project has launched the first national multimedia campaign designed to educate motorists about the importance of driving safely in winter conditions.

Entitled "Ice and Snow...Take It Slow," the campaign provides a variety of sample marketing materials that encourage drivers to slow down and drive safely on winter roads. The materials, which can be used as-is or customized by individual states, include:

  • Bookmarks with safe winter driving tips.

  • Key rings, vehicle window decals and vehicle litter bags with the eye-grabbing "Ice and Snow...Take It Slow" logo.

  • Desk notepads with both the "Ice and Snow...Take It Slow" logo and the Clear Roads Web address.

  • Posters and brochures featuring winter driving safety messages.

  • A CD-ROM with all the artwork needed to create the sample materials, along with winter driving safety messages and numerous snow and ice photos and videos that states can use to create or enhance a safety program.

  • A DVD with radio public service announcements on safe winter driving. The PSAs are in MP3 and WAV formats with scripts included.

The contents of the CD-ROM and the DVD are available on the Clear Roads website at http://www.clearroads.org/ for download and use by state and local agencies.

Dennis Burkheimer, Winter Operations Administrator at Iowa DOT, helped coordinate the campaign on behalf of Clear Roads. "Our goal is similar to that of the familiar 'Give 'em a Brake' and 'Click It or Ticket' campaigns," he said. "We want to build momentum in a number of states to push through a very important safety message that drivers can connect with and act on. To help reach that goal, we created marketing items that we believe state DOTs and other agencies can use to develop effective winter driving safety programs."

The campaign is the product of a unique partnership between Clear Roads and the public information officers at a dozen state DOTs. It began in 2006, when Clear Roads members recognized the need to develop a collaborative national winter safety and education effort. One of the group's key interests was to create a kit of practical tools that could be posted on the Clear Roads website for download and use by state and local agencies.

To provide the expertise needed to develop the toolkit and other campaign items, Clear Roads asked the public information officers at 34 state DOTs if they would be interested in volunteering their time and talent. Twelve PIOs stepped forward to help Clear Roads develop a campaign slogan and logo, sample marketing materials, and four key winter safety themes that would be woven into the materials: reduce speed, safe travel around snowplows, driving maneuvers and trip preparedness.

Many of the winter driving safety messages that the team built around these themes are eye-catching—even the seasoned Snowbelt driver will find food for thought. Examples include:

  • "Learn about driving conditions before leaving home. Know the weather and know your limits."

  • "Don't turn your vehicle into an 'off-road vehicle' by driving too fast for conditions."

  • "Don't crowd the plow. Snowplows plow far and wide—sometimes very wide."

The campaign was officially rolled out during the National Snow and Ice Peer Exchange held in Columbus, Ohio, in August. During the conference Burkheimer introduced the project and its goals to representatives of 35 states and distributed information packets containing sample marketing items. Following the conference, the rollout continued when Clear Roads sent a letter of introduction and marketing samples to the PIOs and state maintenance engineers for all DOTs that deal with snow and ice removal.

"One of the key advantages of the campaign materials is that they can be customized by local agencies to suit their needs," Burkheimer said. "We encourage them to work within their own agencies to develop a localized media campaign around the 'Ice and Snow...Take It Slow' message."

Several Clear Roads member states have already developed plans for incorporating the campaign into their existing winter safety programs. These are examples of the many efforts underway:

  • Add information about the campaign to the DOT website.

  • Print campaign posters, notepads, bookmarks and brochures for distribution in the state, including at driver's license testing stations, Interstate safety rest areas, American Automobile Association offices, and driver education program offices.

  • Write articles about the campaign for publication in internal DOT newsletters and state government newsletters.

  • Write media releases that emphasize the key winter safety messages of the campaign.

  • Seek approval to display the "Ice and Snow...Take It Slow" message on variable message signs during snow events.

  • Develop a three- to five-minute video to be available for download and use in driver education classes or other public outreach programs.

  • Create a winter driving safety website containing information for motorists, driving tips, downloadable materials, etc.

  • Publish a press release launching the new campaign and website.

  • Submit public service announcements to local radio stations.

  • Provide packets of campaign materials to state traffic reporters.

  • Seek approval to place campaign logo decals on all state snowplow trucks.

  • Advertise at state high school athletic events.

Sample marketing materials for the campaign include bookmarks, posters, brochures, winter images and audio public safety announcements.

"The campaign has been a truly collaborative effort," Burkheimer said. "The partnership with the PIOs has given Clear Roads an opportunity to work with, and learn from, professionals who are very familiar with effective marketing and media techniques for state DOTs. The PIOs brought a tremendous amount of creative energy to this project, and a lot of great ideas were bounced back and forth between the PIOs and Clear Roads members.

"In the near term, as 'Ice and Snow...Take It Slow' builds momentum, we hope to see more states take off with the campaign and find innovative ways to implement it," Burkheimer said. "Over the longer term, we hope that our safety message reaches a growing number of drivers and helps get them home safely on winter roads."

Burkheimer invites your questions about the campaign and may be contacted at (515) 239-1355 or dennis.burkheimer@dot.iowa.gov.