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Contributed by Jane Putnam

Maybe it’s one of those things that “you have to have been there” to get, but our PR Department got a kick out of a recent article on “53 signs you work in public relations.” We love our Diet Coke, iPhones, news and social media feeds and thrive on being busy. The article summed us up well — and it provided some reassurance to know we’re not alone in some of our habits!

Want to see what had us laughing? Read the article here, from

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It still amazes me when we pick up a new client how often I hear how they are sick and tired of hearing agencies talk about how hip and cool they are while using every marketing buzzword known to man and never letting them get a word in edgewise.

Since founding PPBH in 1984, I’ve always preached to my employees that the best way to understand a client’s needs is to ask smart questions, then shut up and listen. We have worked hard to develop a “listening culture” at our agency. We have learned over the years that if all you do is talk the entire meeting, it’s impossible to get the information you need to come up with a unique perspective that will increase sales, change a perception or alter behavior.

It’s like my fellow PPBH partner, Mike Brian, always says, “The more you know, the less you guess, and guessing is expensive.” Businesses can’t afford to have their agency guessing with their marketing dollars because they simply have not taken to time to understand their business needs.

Some very important people have talked about the importance of listening:

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” -Epictetus

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  -Winston Churchill

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway

I think Hemingway would of made a great ad man.

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Contributed by Melanie Donahoo

I was talking with an acquaintance the other day about how they had recently changed the demographic of the audience they were targeting for their product. This shift meant their messaging needed to be reworked to better resonate with this new group. In trying to hone in on what that messaging should be and how it should be delivered, we had the following conversation:

Me: What research have you done with this age group?
Acquaintance: None.

Me: So how do they feel about your message?
Acquaintance: We think they feel . . .

Me: Why do you think that?
Acquaintance: Because that’s how we feel about it.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, and I’ve had similar conversations with clients. In addition to what to say, the trap can also include where to say it. Sometimes businesses don’t want to advertise on a certain medium because it’s not one the marketing manager personally uses. Other times they want to change creative elements or messaging to better suit their own taste. It’s always important to ask yourself, “Am I the target?” The answer is usually no. If that’s the case, make an effort to find out who your target is and what they think and feel.

While it’s important to try and put yourself in your target market’s shoes, the fact is, that will only take you so far. The only way you can really find out how your customer feels about your company, your message or your product is to ask them. There are a lot of options to get the information you’re looking for. While formal research like surveys, interviews and focus groups prove to be the most effective way to get accurate and unbiased information, it’s not always in the budget. If that’s the case, then get creative. You could invite clients and potential clients to your office for lunch and run some ideas past them or have them review your website. You could also conduct surveys using one of many free online survey tools. The options are endless. Just be careful not to taint the information or sway their opinion. In the end, finding out what they really think will benefit you much more than trying to guess what they’re thinking ever will.

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Contributed by Lora Stead

I have been working with Zero Fatalities for the past year and attended my first Teen Memoriam press event yesterday, which instilled in me an even greater sense of purpose for what I do. The Teen Memoriam is a booklet PPBH has designed for The Utah Department of Health, Zero Fatalities and The Department of Public Safety since 2007. It tells the stories of teens who have died on Utah roads.

At the press event, some of the parents of those teens tell their stories. The first speaker was the father of 19-year-old Vanessa Irene Reyes. She and nine of her friends were coming back from a camping trip in Ogden Canyon when another’s irresponsible decision turned deadly. The teen driver of the vehicle she was in decided to try and pass a friend’s car and collided with an F-350 truck. All five teens were killed instantly. I can’t imagine being in the car that got passed and watching your friends die. One person who watched it all happen was the brother of the driver who was killed. I spoke with his mother afterward and she said he is not doing well. I’m really not surprised. Would you be doing well after going through that?

Vanessa’s father read the story he’d written for the book and it made it even more real putting a voice to the words. He struggled to speak as he talked about coming immediately to the crash scene, which he said was quiet, without an ambulance, just a tow truck and twisted metal. Imagine a scene so brutal that no attempt at medical aid is even necessary. Now imagine being the parent, wife, boyfriend or colleague of that person. Or the child. Vanessa had a little baby boy who was at the press event. He looked so much like her.

I spoke with her father to express my condolences and he said how hard it is sometimes to look at the baby and see her face in his. No parent should ever have to go through that. A child will never know his mom because of something that could have been prevented.  Seasoned parents are new parents all over again, raising a 19-month-old boy who is the only tangible remnant of their once vibrant, beautiful daughter.

Seeing the profound pain of these parents, and even sharing it to a certain degree as I listened to their stories made me anxious to continue spreading the safety message. The book itself is incredibly difficult to put together, especially for the parents who choose to write about what happened to their child and how they’ve been impacted because of their loss. Many parents say that writing the memoirs brings them peace, knowing that their child won’t be forgotten and that it could help others, but we all hope there comes a year we don’t have to publish it at all.

Read the 2010 Teen Memoriam

Read the Deseret News Article on the Press Event

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What would you do with an employee in your sales, public relations, marketing or advertising department who, on a daily basis, damages your company’s image by misrepresenting its goals and mission through misguided communication? This employee could be consistently giving prospects old or wrong information, or maybe they’re just lazy, unorganized and repetitive. Most managers wouldn’t hesitate to take action with an employee that acted in such a damaging manner, and rightly so.

So, why is it that your website often eludes the same crucial scrutiny when it can produce results that are just as damaging? Believe it or not, your website is an employee and it can either be a superstar or your worst enemy.

This website “employee” doesn’t take vacations, never takes a sick day and is usually the first to greet your clients, competitors and prospects at the door. In fact, your website may talk to more of your potential customers than all of your employees—combined. Leaving this representative unmanaged can spell disaster for your company. On the other hand . . .

Read the Rest of the Article as Published in Utah Business Magazine

Download the White Paper

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Contributed by Melanie Donahoo

The research is in and according to an article published by The Street, it looks like Apple is the foremost brand in the world. This is great news for the company since they’ve obviously been struggling for reasons to make headlines these days. The European Brand Institute released the findings Wednesday from its study of more than 3,000 companies in 24 countries. The report valued the Apple brand at $96 billion—a solid $20 billion more than Coca-Cola, the next top brand.

So what does Apple have that you don’t? Well, besides piles of cash and a worldwide empire, not much. You see, Apple didn’t start out as a mega-player in the tech world. The company began the same way many companies do, with two guys, $1,300, and some big ideas. But somewhere along the line Apple did something, or a lot of somethings, right. The following are a few simple lessons everyone can learn from their journey to the top.

Adapt to Stay Relevant
The story of Apple would be very different if the only product they ever produced was the Apple I computer. While most industries don’t change as quickly as the tech world does, every company must adapt to meet the evolving needs of their consumers.

Stick with What You Know, Hire Out What You Don’t
Steve Jobs knew he wanted Apple to go big, so early on he enlisted the help of a powerhouse tech-marketing guru Mike Markkula to help him develop the business plan. Jobs also hired one of the most successful advertising and public relations firms in Silicon Valley to put together an advertising plan. After 30 plus years in business, Steve Jobs certainly learned a thing or two about marketing, yet Apple still relies on outside consultants to help guide the company. This allows them to focus on the things at which they excel.

Be Consistent
While evolution and branching out are good things, maintaining a level of consistency is key. Every business should have a set of branding guidelines that all communication, services, and products are checked against. Failing to do this has caused many companies to alienate their customers.

Top 10 World Brands
1. Apple
2. Coca-Cola
3. Microsoft
4. Google
5. IBM
6. McDonald’s
7. AT&T
8. Proctor & Gamble
9. Pepsico
10. Philip Morris International

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To keep up with Utah’s growing population, the Utah Department of Transportation studies innovative ideas to improve road efficiency. One such idea allowed solo drivers to use remaining carpool lane space by paying a toll that adjusts with congestion. UDOT partnered with PPBH to brand and introduce this concept. With pressure from the legislature to demonstrate effectiveness and pressure from the public to spend tax money wisely, the team was able to motivate more drivers than planned to register by the end of the program’s first month.


In 2006, UDOT studied several ways to increase capacity on I-15 without the option of widening in most areas. UDOT found that an electronic payment system that allows solo drivers to pay an adjustable fee based on congestion to use the remaining space in the under-utilized carpool lane would be an effective way to improve traffic flow on I-15. That same year, the Utah State Legislature and Utah Transportation Commission granted UDOT permission to allow solo drivers to purchase a monthly decal until UDOT could convert to an electronic payment system. Since the electronic system would be completely new for Utahns, the team needed to brand the system, educate the public about it and sell Express Passes. The team conducted pre- and post-electronic focus groups and telephone surveys to see how drivers would receive the new concepts.

Target Publics: Primary – Drivers that use I-15 at least once a month from Utah County to Davis County ages 25-54 and the 1,500 drivers enrolled in the decal program. Secondary – Media, Utah Highway Patrol, Utah Transportation Commission, local legislators, UDOT senior leadership and large businesses along I-15

Results: Research showed that pass holders felt they were losing their “secret” for avoiding congestion and they liked belonging to what they felt was an exclusive club. They were worried that the new system’s cost would be less predictable and more expensive. Non-decal holders did not see a real advantage to using an Express Pass. All I-15 drivers had a lot of questions about how the Express Pass system would work.

Conclusions: The team determined that the campaign should give special treatment and priority to decal holders and offer viable reasons and scenarios to show less frequent drivers the benefits of signing up and using the lanes. Both groups needed education on how the system would work.


Launch the state’s first real tolling project, Express Pass.

  • Motivate 5,000 drivers to sign up for an Express Pass account
  • Motivate at least 4,000 of those drivers to sign up for an account by the end of the first day (July 20)
  • Motivate at least 70 percent of decal holders to sign up for an Express Pass
  • Increase overall awareness of how the new system works by 25 percent


  • Educate primary publics about why UDOT is converting to the new system and its benefits
  • Educate primary publics how Express Pass works
  • Motivate decal holders to sign up for Express Pass in an exclusive way
  • Motivate less frequent I-15 drivers to sign up and use the lanes as needed
  • Inform secondary publics of Express Lane changes and how changes will affect them

Tactics Used by PPBH

Mass Media

  • Radio: 60-, 30-, 15- and 7-second spots
  • Online: animated banner ads
  • Business magazine ads: July and August full-page color ads


  • Offered decal holders the option to sign up a month early and to get the pass for free
  • Offered the general public the first 2,000 Express Passes for free

Public Relations

  • Media briefing, July 8 – First electronic sign installed July 10
  • Media briefing, July 19 – Express Passes available for purchase on July 20
  • News release, Aug. 20 – System live August
  • Educational video on website


  • Emails to decal holders
  • Presentations at enforcement task force meetings
  • Presentations to large businesses along I-15
  • Utah Transportation Commission, UDOT senior leaders and legislator update preparation
  • Educational brochure mailed with the Express Pass

Method of Evaluation: The team would measure success by the number of enrollments and the number of decal holders retained. The team would measure the success of media outreach and educational efforts by the number of stories published, the number of visitors to the website and the results of the surveys and focus groups.


Preparation: The team revamped the website first, making sure it was easy to sign up and easy to learn how Express Pass worked. The site featured an educational video that explained the system and a programmed free-pass countdown to add urgency to sign up on the first day. The first 2,000 passes were gone by the afternoon of the first day so UDOT offered another 1,000 to maintain the momentum. Implementation had to be planned precisely as the team created multiple versions of each ad to begin at each milestone: “passes will go on sale,” “the first 2,000 free” and “system is live.”

Special Treatment: The team offered decal holders the exclusive option to sign up a month early and to receive a free Express Pass in appreciation of their long-standing support.

Grassroots: Preparation for meetings with large businesses, the UHP and the Transportation Commission helped the team better shape public messaging and better prepare UDOT senior leadership to keep legislators in the loop about the program as it evolved.

Sensitivities: The campaign was a delicate process as it was the first in UDOT history to sell something, and the public tends to question government spending on marketing, especially during hard economic times. The team was judicious in wording advertising copy steering away from words like “sponsored by” or anything that sounded “salesy.”


Objectives were met or exceeded:

  • Motivate 5,000 drivers to sign up for an Express Pass account
    Results: 6,492 drivers signed up for Express Passes
  • Motivate at least 4,000 of those drivers to sign up for an account by the end of the first day (July 20)
    Results: 4,000 drivers signed up for an account by 1 p.m. on the first day and 4,826 drivers were signed up by the end of the day
  • Motivate at least 70 percent of decal holders to sign up for an Express Pass
    Results:  75 percent of the 1,500 decal holders signed up for one or more passes (50 business decal accounts could not be tracked in the new system)
  • Increase overall awareness of how the new system works by 25 percent
    Results: 33 percent of awareness answers were correct in the pre-electronic survey and 85 percent of the same answers were correct in the post-electronic survey, showing a 52-percent increase in awareness

Earned media coverage introduced the marketing at each milestone: Major media outlets covered stories before each milestone.

Visits to the educational website increased drastically during the campaign: After an average of 900 visits per month since the Express Lanes website was created, the site received 20,788 visitors in July, 17,476 visitors in August and 8,585 visitors in September.

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America’s emergency number “911,” is known throughout the nation, even the world. However, this proved to be more of a problem when residents of Utah were calling for non-emergencies, delaying life-threatening situations from being attended to. Together, the Utah Department of Public Safety and PPBH created a website allowing public access to E-911’s non-emergency phone number database, accessible by zip code. Two concise 15-second public service announcements spots were created to promote the site. Real life scenarios were illustrated to demonstrate non-emergency situations that public safety officials were receiving 911 calls regarding. In an effort to educate the public of alternate networks, the public service announcements were able to capture the attention of more than 90 percent of Utah residents who own TVs.


When a life is on the line, there is no time for interference. Public safety in Utah was at risk because non-emergency calls were tying up 911 lines, meaning valuable resources were being wasted on inappropriate calls. Even worse, non-emergency calls slow response time and keep life-threatening emergencies from being addressed as quickly as possible. Ultimately, no Utah community should go without emergency services, nor should they go without emergency service education. Research showed the public needed to be educated on when it’s appropriate to call 911, as well as where to find local non-emergency phone numbers. Primary research consisted of:

  • One-on-one interviews in call centers in rural and metro areas
  • Utah Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials interviews

Core Problem: Too many Utahns calling 911 for non-emergencies.

Target Audiences: Adult Utahns with a focus on young mothers who are likely to educate their children on safety.

Goal: Reduce the number of non-emergency calls to the 911-response system in 2011.

Overall Objectives:

  • Promote understanding of the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency
  • Increase web traffic to by ten percent where Utahns can more learn about calling 911
  • Elicit the use of Emergency 911’s (E911) non-emergency number look-up system


With strong and effective E-911 messaging already in place, teaching Utahns to “Call 911 to: Save a Life. Stop a Crime. Report a Fire.,” the foundation messaging was already in place. As TV proved to be a successful statewide tactic in previous years, new TV PSAs were created for the sole purpose of providing undisputable examples of non-emergencies, while informing the public that alternatives to dialing 911 exist. The new announcements brought awareness to the issue by showing “real-life” situations that affect both rural and metro areas—all discovered during the research interviews. The spots illustrated when it is not appropriate to call 911 and where to access local phone numbers for non-emergency situations, such as online or on any smartphone. One public service announcement, “Barking Dog,” shows a tired and frustrated couple, tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep because of a neighbor’s barking dog. A second announcement, “Power Outage,” shows a couple sitting down for a movie when the power goes out. Each illustrates non-emergency situations that public safety officials were receiving 911 calls regarding.


The new TV commercials were created to work together with existing materials as a cohesive, integrated campaign. The two concise 15-second spots were used in various rotations. Starting out coupled with the “Call 911 to: Save a Life. Stop a Crime. Report a Fire.” spot and progressing on as either stand alone 15-second spots or married together for a 30-second spot. The announcement pointed viewers to where they could access E-911’s non-emergency phone number database and look-up numbers by zip code. TV was used as the backbone to the mass media tactics. It was the correct tactic, given its ability to capture attention, tell a story and reach more than 90 percent of Utah residents owning TVs. The first flight ran April 18-30, 2011, just before 911 call volumes begin to rise in the summer. The TV schedule strategically reached the Utah adult population on the most popular TV stations in the area: KSL, KSTU and KUTV, as well as particular cable networks. Additionally, the niche audience of young mothers with children was reached through placement on programing such as Dr. Phil, Oprah, Rachael Ray and KSL’s Studio 5. Added-value placement extended the two-week schedule for multiple weeks adding to the media budget through matching and bonus gross rating points.


Per client feedback, the volume of non-emergency calls to 911 decreased.

  • Promote understanding of the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency
    Result: Reached 92.3% with a 5.6 frequency
  • Increase Web traffic to by ten percent where Utahns can learn more about calling 911
    Result: 262 daily hits during paid media flight (up 22% from non-advertising periods)
  • Elicit the use of E911’s non-emergency number look-up system
    Result: 667 Utahns accessed local non-emergency numbers during the paid media schedule (up 9% from non-advertising periods)

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Between 2006 and 2008, motorists killed an average of 30 pedestrians each year. The Pedestrian Safety “Heads Up” campaign aims to reach both motorists and pedestrians to increase pedestrian safety awareness. In 2010, PPBH catered toward all motorists but particularly those aged 18-34—a difficult-to-reach demographic—in a new, creative way. Messaging printed on gas pump toppers accompanied audio clips that played as fuel started dispensing. This creative tactic enabled PPBH to:

  1. Speak directly to a captive audience of drivers.
  2. Disrupt a routine task to focus attention on important safety information about ‘heads up’ driving around pedestrians.


Drivers and pedestrians share our roads, but the two don’t always mix. Between the years of 2006 and 2008, motorists killed an average of 30 pedestrians each year. The Pedestrian Safety “Heads Up” campaign aims to reach both motorists and pedestrians to increase pedestrian safety awareness. The message encourages motorists and pedestrians to be alert and mindful of each other on the road to, ultimately, avoid pedestrian fatalities.

Using research provided by the Utah Department of Health and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, PPBH identified that typically drivers ages 18-34 were involved in the majority of motorist/pedestrian fatalities. This age group is one of the hardest to reach with “traditional” communication tools as they spend more than 47 percent of their day away from home. PPBH media and account service staff delved into our own media research resources, including Scarborough and other databases, to identify the best tools and channels to reach this hard-to-reach audience.

It was determined that one of the most effective places to reach motorists, both in the hard-to-reach age group and other target audiences, would be in situations related to driving. So, in addition to radio ads and outdoor board and bus/transit signage, the new creative tactic employed was to reach drivers where and when they fill their vehicles.

At gas stations around Utah, gas pump top ads were installed and, as an added ‘disruptive’ reminder to look out for pedestrians, audio driver/pedestrian safety messages played when fuel was dispensed. “Heads Up” was the first campaign in our state to employ this audio ‘hose squawker’ technology at gas pumps. To reinforce the messages at these gas stations, window clings and floor graphics installed at the accompanying storefronts directed individuals to visit, the program website.


Because the gas pump audio was new, it took motorists by surprise and commanded attention. While not a humorous subject, we used humor in the messaging, as in our experience a humorous approach has proven to deliver better retention with 18-34 year olds. A narrator, using a ‘this is your conscience’-type voice, discusses how it’s not worth running over a pedestrian, especially in the state of the current economy. It also discusses how simply being aware of pedestrians can prevent life-long guilt.

From hose squawker audio messages and fuel tops ads, the experience continued into the convenience store where the windows were lined with window clings and the floor with graphics. These additional reminders reinforced the safety messages and, were intended to make it difficult for motorists to leave without thinking about their responsibility in giving a ‘heads up’ when driving around pedestrians.

Using “captive audience” destinations such as gas stations as hubs for ads was a fun, innovative and creative way to link to motorists and spread the public safety message. It was the ideal destination to reach drivers, as it is a location all motorists visit. Having an entertaining and distinctive message, made for a perfect opportunity to give a “Heads up for Pedestrians.”


From Logan to St George, Utah, 140 fuel pump tops, hose squawkers and storefront and floor graphics reached motorists across the state garnering 40 million impressions. Measuring the effectiveness of the education effort, the year-end traffic fatality report reported a total of 26 pedestrian fatalities in 2010, which was lower than the 2006-2008 fatalities.


This creative tactic broke through the clutter to contact a hard-to-reach target by using a disruptive technology that reached them while driving, and driving-related tasks, were front-of-mind.

Additionally, being the first group to use this new gas station hose squawker capability creatively caught motorist’s attention at a point of impact where messages were more likely to be received and retained. While with anything new there are logistical and technical challenges, overall the unique and creative delivery of the message proved to catch attention where alternative, more traditional tactics would have fallen short.

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Outdoor advertising, including one 3-D board and two bulletins, was a key tactic used to capture attention and raise awareness about the dangers of cutting off semi-trucks. The concept: the front half of a crunched, red compact car rear-ended by a semi-truck protruded in three dimensions from a board carrying the message “Cutting off a semi may cost you a $750 fine. If you survive.” Additional 2-D boards with similar messaging ran as companions in the 17-mile enforcement zone along I-15 for Utah’s TACT introduction. TACT, the federal Ticketing Aggressive Cars & Trucks program that educates and promotes safe driving behaviors in and around semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles was recently introduced in Utah. TACT is currently active in 15 other states.


Research: Passenger vehicle drivers are six times more likely to be killed in a crash with a commercial vehicle than with another passenger vehicle, according to the Utah Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (Utah CODES, 2007-2008 data). Analyzing this data for crashes involving both a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and a passenger vehicle (PV) found drivers were more often male in both the PV and CMVs; PV drivers aged 20-29 years were more involved; and CMV drivers aged 30-39 and 40-49 years were more involved.

Goal: Implement the federal Ticketing Aggressive Cars & Trucks program in Utah to educate drivers about the dangers of driving in and around CMVs

Target: For media placements, the primary demographic is men 18-34 (PV drivers) while the secondary audience is men 35-39 (CMV drivers)


  • Reach 150,000 drivers per day during each the TACT enforcement weeks of April 25 and June 20, 2011 to educate about the TACT program and safe driving (1.5 million drivers/week)
  • Reduce the number of car versus truck crashes, injuries and fatalities on Utah highways by 10 percent (Issuing citations was not an objective)


  • Three 48’ x 14’ bulletins placed at both ends and in the middle of the enforcement zone: Interstate 15 in metro Salt Lake City from 600 North to 12000 South, about 17 miles
  • Two semi-trailer wraps used with the enforcement vehicles traveling throughout the zone during the week-long enforcement periods, as well as traveling statewide and beyond during other times


Two traditional vinyl bulletins were placed at either end of the enforcement zone. Serious headlines each provided two messages: the potential for a large ticket and the even more costly potential of a fatal crash.

A third bulletin was created showing the front half of a red compact car protruding from a board. This eye-catching display dramatically emphasized the consequence of cutting off a semi-truck. It also featured extra lights to be visible at night, as well as an extension for the truck’s cab and exhaust stacks.

Two semi-trailers were donated by local trucking companies to be wrapped with TACT messaging. The design consisted of a larger-than-life photo of a real UHP trooper writing a ticket.


Coordination between a display vendor who could build the 3-D car and its mounting hardware, the outdoor advertising company installing the piece, and the art directors who created the concept took a team committed to details, timelines and communication in order to implement this complex outdoor ad. TV news coverage included shots of the 3-D board, which rarely happens. The truck wraps were also featured in TV news stories as reporters rode along with troopers on enforcement days.


The bulletins delivered a total of 11,639,968 impressions, far surpassing the goal of reaching 3 million drivers during the campaign. The trucks drove the 17-mile corridor seven to 10 times a day during the enforcement weeks, and also continue to spread the TACT message throughout Utah and beyond, and will continue to do so for years to come.

The most important result comes when comparing the number of crashes for the same location, time period and week in 2009 and 2010, 2011 showed marked decreases. April saw a 30 percent decrease from 2010 while June crashes fell 45 percent since 2010. And considering we have more vehicles traveling in 2011 than previous years, the numbers become even more dramatic.

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