TRIP improving roadway safety – one state at a time

ATSSA's Director of Communications James S. Baron recently attended a social media and website strategic planning session in Washington, D.C., for TRIP – The Road Information Program. Hosted by TRIP’s Chair Nick Yaksich, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) senior vice president, government and industry relations, the meeting brought TRIP together with their closest industry allies – ATSSA, ARTBA, AGC, AEM, NAPA and NSSGA – to discuss even more ways for TRIP to reach a bigger audience. A humble next step, considering the immense audience of followers TRIP already enjoys.

TRIP is a very successful and highly-respected national transportation research group that’s been around since 1971. And, ATSSA has partnered with TRIP for over three decades. They are a private, nonprofit organization whose small staff researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues across the country. Where it really gets exciting is in the way TRIP delivers their message to an audience of lawmakers, road users, elected officials and the media. Rather than present their reports via boring spreadsheets on a website, you’re more likely to see the fruits of TRIP’s work on page one of USA Today, or leading the evening newscast on your television set tonight.

Here’s how they do it.

Working closely with state DOTs, TRIP will first generate a fact-finding survey that targets a state’s specific transportation needs or shortfalls. Once those hot topics are identified – such as dangerous rural roads, how much bad roads cost taxpayers, how many hours drivers are stuck in traffic, aging bridges, a need for a safer infrastructure – you name it, the data mining begins. TRIP’s staff relies on a multitude of sources – such as NHTSA, FHWA and regional governments – and creates a report for local release that highlights an issue.

“We never recommend a solution,” said TRIP’s Director of Marketing and Development Lisa Templeton. “We simply identify the problem and provide the facts and the data to support it. This is what has built our credibility with the news media.”

Quite often, state DOTs will contact TRIP seeking a specific report on a transportation topic that they may have an interest in at the time, and TRIP is always prepared to oblige.

Trip staff members "then work with stakeholders in that state to pinpoint the best strategic time at which to release a report that further improves or enhances that states’ transportation goals to best inform the public, the media and the lawmakers,” Templeton said.

You would think with all the media attention TRIP has enjoyed over the years that they would employ an army of communications and media specialists to achieve so much print space and air time. In actuality, TRIP has a very small staff who enjoys incredible news and social media coverage by making it happen the old fashioned way.

According to Templeton, “We email media advisories, call reporters (yes, on the telephone), send out more advisories, distribute releases – and fortunately – reporters show up to cover the story.”

The TRIP staff does utilize special media software as well as their partners’ contacts to enhance their coverage even further, to ensure they’re hitting all the right news media with the right message in the markets they are aiming at.

TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction, labor unions, and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

See for yourself TRIP’s incredible accomplishments on behalf of our industry so far this year. Click on the following link to find a synopsis of their 2017 efforts including press events, reports, news coverage, social media exposure and more – TRIP 2017 Program Report.

One final note. During their last meeting, ATSSA’s Board of Directors approved TRIP’s nomination for ATSSA President and CEO Roger Wentz to join TRIP’s Board of Directors.

Follow on Twitter @TRIP_Inc and visit tripnet.org

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