Compare these two press releases:
1. Department of Transport statement announcing:
The number of fatalities in road accidents fell by 2 per cent in the twelve months ending December 2006 compared with the previous twelve months. Total casualties were down 5 percent, and killed and seriously injured casualties down 2 percent, compared with the previous 12 months.
2. Road safety charity Brake reaction to road casualty statistics published today, showing no drop in fatal crashes
Brake, the national road safety charity, is calling for urgent Government action to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in road crashes. Today’s statistics show that in 2006, the number of deaths and serious injuries only decreased by 2% from the previous year and the number of fatal crashes increased marginally. In 2006, 3,150 people were killed and 28,390 were seriously injured, compared to 3,201 deaths and 28,954 serious injuries in 2005. The number of fatal crashes increased from 2,913 in 2005 to 2,920 in 2006.
The first seems like the public information approach to PR whilst the charity is more interpretive and has a more overt agenda. Is such rhetoric helpful?
“It is a disgrace that there are still nine deaths on our roads every day and alarming that these deaths have not fallen significantly in recent years. Deaths among cyclists are actually on the increase. While there are still speeding drivers and people drunk, drugged or unlicensed behind the wheel, we will continue to see appalling carnage on our roads. The Government must wake up to the urgent need for off-road cycle paths, compulsory 20mph limits around our homes and schools and an increased and on-going crackdown on law-breaking and dangerous drivers.”
I am not arguing against campaigning for road safety – in fact, I feel more needs to be done in several areas, and government does have a major role to play. But would a balanced and supportive stance by the charity be more effective than what appears to be a hysterical reaction and interpretation of the statistics?