A study on the influence of English language use in institutional traffic safety campaigns in The Netherlands and Spain.
The use of mobile phones while driving has been the cause of increasingly more (lethal) traffic incidents every year. Therefore, it is of importance to optimize traffic safety campaigns to be utmost effective in order to decrease mobile phone use in traffic, and prevent incidents caused by it. This study investigates the influence of English language use in institutional traffic campaigns in Spain and the Netherlands, with an experiment based on attitude towards the advertisement, comprehensibility, intention to change behaviour and attitude towards the institution. The experiment consisted of a questionnaire in Spanish and in Dutch, concerning a traffic safety campaign with three language conditions (native language only, mix of native language and English & English only). The results seemed to imply that the language manipulation did not have a significant influence on the participants’ perception of the advertisement based on the dependent variables. Moreover, Spanish and Dutch participants did not differ in terms of attitude towards the advertisement, intention to change behaviour or attitude towards the institution, however Dutch participants seemed to have a significantly higher comprehension of the advertisement than Spanish participants did. This study contributes to a higher understanding of young drivers’ attitudes towards traffic safety campaigns, and it provides useful information on factors that could be important for future research. To deepen and broaden the understanding of the role of English language in traffic safety campaigns, future research could be conducted on a larger scale, with a wider variety of participants and a better representation of society. It could also take into consideration the notability of the English use in the advertisement and the impact on additional elements of the advertisement.
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