The “Buckle Up, Brockton” campaign starts with murals and billboards

BROCKTON – Brocktonians are buckling down much less than the state average. A grassroots campaign wants to change that, complete with a mural and billboards in five languages.

The 70-foot-tall mural features families and friends and promotes the message: “Protect those you love. Brace yourself, Brockton.” You can see it on the side of Boulangerie Saint Antoine Bakery at 364 N. Main St.

That’s right around the corner from where North Side muralist Jessica Picanzo grew up. The 2017 Brockton High grad designed the mural with help from Brockton Public Schools and the Cape Verdean Association of Brockton. The whole thing was done with spray paint, said the artist, who continued her studies at Massasoit Community College and is currently a student at UMass-Dartmouth. You can watch an 8-second drone video of the mural here.

The colors and font Picanzo used will be featured on billboards you’ll soon see popping up around the city, says Jeff Larason, director of road safety communications at Travelers Marketing. He was in Brockton Thursday for the campaign kickoff, along with Mayor Robert F. Sullivan and other community leaders.

Brocktonians wear seat belts less than half the time

The need couldn’t be clearer. The state average for seat belt use is 77%, according to the most recent data from the UMass Traffic Safety Research Program. In Brockton it is 48%.

Larason said project organizers did their own, deeper investigation and found even more cause for concern. They spent two days observing drivers and passengers in more than 2,500 vehicles around Brockton. They found that only 42% of people clung.

Larason knows the Bay State’s transportation problems inside and out, having served as chief of state highway safety for eight years. The Brockton initiative stems from the theory that the national security message of “Click It Or Ticket” is not resonating because it is based on enforcement.

“Buckle Up, Brockton” takes a different approach. “This is a community-led initiative,” Larason said, “in people’s own words, in their own language, in their own arts.”

The billboards will be in English, Haitian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese and Spanish.

22 traffic fatalities since autumn 2021

Anyone who has driven, walked or cycled through Brockton knows the streets can be dangerous. Considering the block near the mural alone, there have been at least 13 accidents at the corner of North Main and West Ashland in the past three years, according to state crash data. Those wrecks include a car crashing into a utility pole, a vehicle refusing to yield, a car hitting a cyclist and several side and rear-end collisions.

On the other side of the mural, pedestrian Joao Fernandes, 54, died when he was struck by an ice cream truck at Huntington and North Main on Oct. 14, 2021. Since then, 21 other people have died in wrecks across the city, according to state crash data.

The plan is to conduct the survey again later this summer and see if the efforts have convinced Brocktonians to use their seat belts.

Who is most concerned?

Investigators fanned out across the state to see who was wearing their seat belts and who wasn’t. This is what they found:

  • General, 77% of the car’s occupants were found to be wearing seat belts. Brockton (48%) came out much lower.
  • Judged by apparent gender, women (84%) tended to put on more than a seatbelt men (71%).
  • Looking at the apparent age, children (89%) were most likely buckled in, then seniors (82%)followed by teenagers (81%) And adults (76%)
  • Investigators suspected the apparent race of motorists and passengers. About 77% of whites wore seat belts, compared to 76% of blacks And 65% of Hispanics.
  • Drivers and passengers in vehicles with out-of-state plates (82%) more secured than those in vehicles with Massachusetts (77%) or New Hampshire (74%) registrations.

Sources: 2022 Massachusetts Safety Belt Usage Observation Study and Jeff Larason.

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