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HVE Publicity

High Visibility Enforcement must be coordinated and include equal components of Enforcement, Visibility and Publicity (media, messaging and enforcement enhancing elements). The HVE message must emphasize enforcement targeting a specific traffic safety problem.


To enhance the visibility of your enforcement, you must use a combination of ways to alert the motoring public of your efforts. Pick and choose several methods from each category listed below.  Even if you are unable to support your enforcement with paid media, you can effectively publicize it by using several tools from the earned media category as well as several tools from the visibility elements.


Your publicity should always include pre-event, during, and post-event messaging. Remember: Tell the motoring public what you are going to do; Do it, and; Tell them what you did.

“Enforcement is the message. Getting caught is the message. It’s a simple formula: messaging plus enforcement equals change”

-- Lynn Hightower, PIO, Boise, Idaho Police Department


 Sustained Enforcement Message
This educational message component may include general enforcement message (e.g., state law requires you to buckle up) or may inform motorists of consequences to unlawful traffic behavior (such as the cost of citations/arrest/conviction).


Increased Enforcement Message
These are used for crackdowns, checkpoints and saturation patrols. The message must coordinate with an increase in targeted enforcement and alert the motoring public of their increased risk of being caught.



“Encourage your Public Information Officer to be motivated and develop their own media contacts. They know what works with the local media.” -- Chris Cochran, Assistant Director, Marketing and Public Affairs, California Office of Traffic Safety



Paid Media

Paid advertising: Advertising you purchase on TV, radio, and print. Paid advertising gets the attention of the target audience to support your enforcement efforts. 


Earned Media

Earned media: Publicity you get for free, such as press events, news reports & articles.  Earned media keeps your message active in the community.   Typical earned media used to support HVE programs include 


Template earned media materials are available at


Social Media


“Young people will re-tweet and re-post. Eight people later will get the message in about 5 minutes from the post. They get it faster than watching the news.” -- Officer Travis Knick, Cary, North Carolina, Police Department


Social media is a term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and communications through words and pictures, and can expand the opportunity to reach your audience in real time. An agency can post information on a social media site (Facebook Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) describing its HVE program, promoting voluntary compliance of traffic laws, reporting results, providing notable excuses for violating the law, etc.

“Twitter is better for some things, Facebook for others. I take a photo and post it right away. People love it. Two thousand more sets of eyes see it.” -- Lynn Hightower, PIO Boise, Idaho, Police Department


 There are a number of advantages to using social media over traditional media options:

  • It is immediate.  Messages are provided in real time.
  • It is short.  Messages are limited to a small number of characters, so it does not take a lot of time to develop (as does a press release).
  • It can go viral.  “Fans” can forward your message to their “friends”, greatly expanding its reach. 


There are a number of venues for social media, the most popular of which include

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube




The goal of publicizing your HVE is to make the motoring public aware of your enforcement efforts and create deterrence. When the perceived risk of getting caught by law enforcement goes up, the likelihood that people will engage in unsafe driving behaviors goes down.


Use some of all of these items to help publicize your enforcement activities. 

  • Billboards

  • Electronic message boards

  • Road signs

  • Business marquees

  • Posters

    Image of 2012 Click It or Ticket poster




There is no limit to the number of opportunities to engage the public in your HVE programs through an aggressive media campaign. Whether press releases or events, television or radio interviews, or through the variety of social media, opportunities are limitless. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.


Begin to develop your sustained media strategy with assistance from NHTSA’s Communications Calendar,  The calendar, updated annually, provides key dates for HVE efforts across a range of traffic safety programs, as well as primary and secondary target audiences based on national data.  During dates identified on the calendar, most law enforcement agencies conduct HVE efforts to blanket the country with enforcement. Template materials including press releases, talking points, posters, etc., for each event listed on the calendar are available on the website to make it easier for agencies to participate.


Tips to Get You Started

Same old thing. Or maybe not!  Always let the press know when you are running a high visibility enforcement operation or any special event. Even if they just covered your last enforcement effort a month ago, they may be looking for something to fill space or airtime. The media loves a good story.

  • Top 10 DWI Most Wanted Offenders. Post the 10 most wanted DWI offenders and hold a press conference alerting the public of your enforcement or warrant sweep to get them off the road. Invite the local prosecutor to join the event.
  • Warrant Sweeps. Offer ride-alongs when running warrant sweeps for DUI violators.
  • Probation Searches. Offer ride-alongs when running probation searches on traffic violators.
  • SFST Alcohol Workshop. Invite media to observe and record an alcohol workshop to demonstrate how well trained your officers are.
  • New Information. Issue a press release for each of the following.  Always include photos to enhance the release:
    • Every time an officer completes significant training or achieves a significant accomplishment,
    • When your agency receives a grant for new equipment, and
    • When your agency engages a new partner, or rolls out a new public service announcement, or checkpoint handout.
  • Courts In School. Partner with the local high school and traffic or DUI courts to conduct sentencing for an assembly.
  • Top Brass Hits the Streets. Plan a live news event at a checkpoint, with the police chief or sheriff working the Checkpoint.
  • Dedicated Checkpoint. Dedicate a checkpoint in memory or honor of a victim/survivor. Invite victim/survivor family members to attend the checkpoint roll call. Invite the press to the roll call briefing.
  • Creative multi-jurisdictional HVE efforts. Invite press to joint operations with neighboring jurisdictions, park or marine police, to focus on the fact that enforcement will be in full force on the roadways, waterways and parks.
  • Recognition and Awards. Whether a plaque, certificate, or handshake, make sure to issue a press release identifying your top performers and key partners. Invite the press to all award ceremonies and follow up with a photo and press release.
  • That's Outrageous! You may have seen it all, but the public hasn’t. Or maybe something is so outrageous that it even makes you shake your head in disbelief. Write a release about the guy with this 4th/5th/6th, etc. DUI, the wrong-way driver on the freeway, the texter who hit someone in a wheelchair, the speeder who blacked out a neighborhood for two hours by hitting the pole ... you get the idea. The more you keep them coming, the more the community understands the problems and your efforts.
  • Roll Call Briefing. Invite the media to attend your roll call briefing prior to your HVE enforcement or checkpoint. Offer ride-alongs if your agency policy permits them. Be sure to rotate roll call to include each agency in a multi-jurisdictional effort.
  • No Refusal Weekends. Invite the media as you conduct this enforcement strategy that allows officers to obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse to submit to breath tests.  For more information and a “How To” kit, visit


Old Events with a New Twist
Memorial Day or Halloween.  Hold a press event at a local cemetery.  For Memorial Day, the theme would be that it’s an honor for a fallen veteran to be laid to rest there, but tragic for a victim of a traffic crash.  For Halloween, the theme would be that it’s fun to dress up like ghosts; it’s not fun to follow up a Halloween party with a DWI crash that lands you or someone else in the cemetery.

  • Jail House. Hold a media event in the jail in an area with a good visual backdrop.  The message is that jail is a lousy place to spend time and prison is even worse.

Ensure the public sees high levels of enforcement activity.
Tell the public why the law is being enforced.
Visibility Elements
Show the public what is being enforced.
>> BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: Implementing or enhancing your HVE effort
>> RESOURCES: Frequently Asked Questions, Quick Picks Toolkit, Partners

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)