A Note from Tove (17. September, 2004)

A number of new, [authentic road signs] were added to the Skogfjorden site this summer (after we left) -- the best being the three "husk bilbelte" signs that Vegvesenet had used in a campaign here in Norway last year. The campaign in Norway has been a raving success. The people at Vegvesenet were so curious about Skogfjorden after I contacted them about sharing the signs with us, that Bjarte Skaugset at Vegvesenet arranged to pay for the rights for us to use the photography on the signs at Skogfjorden. Nice, huh? Here's more about that story.

The most popular sign overall is the sign with the father and son. That one is placed by the grense so that you see it as you drive out. The picture of the mature couple, as they are referred to by the photographer, is placed by Ginungagap. That way, the permanent site staff see it every time they drive off our site from that road.

The young couple sign was created to appeal to youth in particular. It has, indeed, been shown to have greatest appeal among youth. At Skogfjorden, it is placed right outside the staff parking lot. That particular motif was inspired by these statistics: http://www.vegvesen.no/bilbelte/tabell_graf_alder.stm The table is called "Total injured and killed in the period of 1998-2003" -- with a noticeable trend among youth that they want to actively turn around. (If you are getting the table with numbers, click on the "søylediagram" link in the upper right hand corner for a bar graph that gets the information across much more effectively visually).

The bottom line for bringing these signs to Skogfjorden is related to our wish for all our kids and their families to be safe. It matches very well with Vegvesenets recent appeal to media that they know will catch people's attention. They are now using that hook to foster positive driving habits that can keep us from needlessly losing fellow citizens of any age, and especially the 3000 young people who were seriously injured or killed in the 5-year period year represented by the table. That is a starting point that I cannot imagine anyone in our program could argue with.

In their evaluation of the campaign's effect in 2003, Vegvesenet has found that drivers really notice the signs and that seatbelt use in the areas where the campaign has been run has gone up.

Another campaign photo used in Norway was: http://www.vegvesen.no/bilbelte/annonse/kenneth_modul44.pdf This is an undoctored picture of a real kid who was photographed shortly after his accident. He took phone calls from people for a day about his experience.

I got in touch with Vegvesenet after this second campaign photo came out and complimented them on its power and the courage of the boy who participated in it. At the same time, I think that the "Husk bilbilte" pictures that we have on site will have the most lasting effect on drivers. Unlike the boy's photo, the "husk bilbelte" images give the positive message which seatbelts are really all about -- caring enough about yourself and others to take a simple, potentially lifesaving precaution every time you get in the car. Simply put, wearing seatbelts is about loving and being loved.

One last thing. Vegvesenet now has made press releases for radio (check out http://www.vegvesen.no/bilbelte/presserom.stm and click on "hør radiospot" from the left hand column) and TV (check the same link and clik on "se TV spot" in the left hand column) for their campaign. I highly recommend listening to / watching them. They are about how much force your experience when crashing.

For non-Norwegian speakers, on the radio spot, they say: Imagine diving into a swimming pool from a 10 meter diving board, only to realize once you take flight that the pool is empty. The impact of that jump is the same as one felt by a person crashing at car at 50 km/hour.

The TV spot focuses on how many Gs a record setting jet pilot experiences while flying and if he has to eject himself from the plane (record setting in the sense that he is flying with the greatest amount of force ever experienced by a jet fighter in flight -- 9 Gs with 18 Gs at the point of ejection, if necessary). While they explain this, they show all the special equipment the pilot wears to protect him from these forces. Then they show how many Gs one would experience in a 50 km/hour car crash -- more than twice as much as a fighter pilot ejecting himself from his plane. Their final comment: "Use the safety equipment you have -- remember to use your seatbelt".

Wearing a seatbelt is the least one can do in a car to prevent injury and loss of life. In Norway, it increases the chance of surviving a car crash by 50%. If the signs get people's attention, more power to them. As a matter of fact, we are planning to do a story about the signs in the local media next summer to broaden the message we are trying to convey.

I hope these thoughts help you appreciate our new signs' value and purpose. We are thrilled with the gift, and we hope it reminds people of what we always say when we send kids home at the end of the session -- drive safely, and see you next year!