Blame-the-Victim Policy Narratives And Local-Level Transportation Policy

Policy literature discusses the intersection of media, public opinion, and politics, and their impact on public policy. This study examines if media reports regarding bicyclist and pedestrian crashes appear important in shaping the policy narrative that defines the event. The research seeks to understand the effects of policy narratives on transportation policy decisions to improve the safety of vulnerable road users. The report investigates the relationship between policy narratives that cast pedestrians and bicyclists as “guilty villains” versus “innocent victims” and the policy tools used to improve safety in local communities exist. Content analysis of different media sources generates the qualitative, coded independent variable, Blame-the-victim, and a qualitative, coded dependent variable, policy tools. The study randomly selects twelve states and gathers 767 news articles related to bicycle and pedestrian crashes for the period 2003-2015. The victim narrative appears more prevalent, but the episodic framing in the narrative indicates that the media reports the crashes as isolated issues without consideration of any environmental factors. This makes the news less important and fails to gather public opinion. The low visibility (< 10% of fatal crashes) and salience provided by the media likely results in the low rate of policy change.

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $120000
  • Contract Numbers:

    DTRT13-G-UTC60 TRC-16-07

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities

    Western Michigan University
    Kalamazoo, MI  United States  49009-5316

    Western Michigan University

    1903 W. Michigan Avenue
    Kalamazoo, MI  United States  49008-5241
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities

    Western Michigan University
    Kalamazoo, MI  United States  49009-5316

    University of Texas, Arlington

    Dept. of Civil Engineering
    Box 19308
    Arlington, TX  United States  76019
  • Principal Investigators:

    Casey, Colleen

    Mattingly, Stephen

  • Start Date: 20160901
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180331
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180531
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers
  • Subprogram: Research
  • Source Data: https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u883/2018/TRCLC_RR_16-07_0.pdf

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01610410
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC60 TRC-16-07
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Sep 9 2016 10:38AM