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State Highway Safety Showcase

Live Free Ride Alive Motorcycle Safety Campaign

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

In 2009, PennDOT completed an evaluation of Pennsylvania’s Motorcycle Safety Program and motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania. The analysis revealed the factors most linked to the outcome of a crash are under a riders direct control.

The study showed the biggest impacts on motorcycle crash outcomes were: DUI, speeding, and being properly trained and licensed. Since these factors are within the riders direct control, a key recommendation was to develop a public information campaign geared toward encouraging riders to modify their behaviors and complete motorcycle safety training and become properly licensed to operate a motorcycle.


With the assistance of marketing and media buying firms, planning for the Live Free Ride Alive campaign began in 2009. A strategic marketing plan for the campaign was developed, outlining goals and objectives, target audiences, plans for reaching those target audiences, and rationale/support behind campaign components. PennDOT delved into the psyche of riders, particularly those more inclined to exhibit high-risk behaviors. They talked to riders hanging out in “Chopper Dave’s” basement hideaway and motorcycle dealerships/events, visited online motorcycle forums, end exposed themselves to media that riders consume.

Here’s what they found: freedom. Ask anyone why they ride, no matter what they ride, and time and again, that’s your answer. Riders are known for their love of the open road and the freedom that comes with it; riding is a way of life.

PennDOT also discovered several important truths about riders: subtlety does not work with this audience; riders realize risks of the road are two-sided; others can and do cause crashes; riders like to be – and should be – in control; and riders don’t want to be preached to. This made for an interesting challenge, especially since the campaign's objective was to educate riders about the inherent risks that come with riding. PennDOT realized early on that the best way to get the message across is to let the riders themselves do the talking.

Launched in 2010, campaign components included an interactive website that served as the destination for all marketing efforts. The website allowed riders to create content and share personal riding stories by posting messages/videos for their fellow riders to view.

Other components included: the Live Free Ride Alive documentary, a collection of stories about real Pennsylvania riders – a celebration of the freedom that comes with riding a motorcycle and a sobering look at what happens when it is gone; a paid media component, including billboards, delivery truck advertising, online banner advertisements, online paid search, radio partnerships, etc., and a public relations component, including press releases, pitch letters to reporters who ride, radio media tours, and distribution of campaign collateral materials.

All these tactics focused on driving riders to the campaign’s website and encouraging them to share their stories with fellow riders and take the “Be One Less” pledge, honoring the fallen and keeping those on two wheels on two wheels by pledging to be one less crash statistic. The campaign continues in 2011.

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