Social Media and Special Marshal Activities: A Logistic Approach
Andohol Jerome
Review of Journalism and Mass Communication, 1(1), pp. 32-44.
Social media provides an opportunity where people share news and information in real time online. This paper intends to harness the advantages provided by this platform to enhance the activities of Road Special Marshal Corps (RSMC) in Benue State Nigeria towards building safety nets for Road users as well as rendition of assistance to the Road Safety Regular Marshal Corps of the Federal Road Safety Commission of Nigeria. The questionnaire format was adopted to draw responses from the Four Hundred and Eighty- Seven (487) RSMC of Benue State. This number served as the population sample of the study, out of which Four Hundred and Eighty (480) responses were received. Using descriptive statistics, percentages ,ratio and the Logistic Regression approach as tools of analysis, it was discovered that the apathy developed by Road Special Marshal Corps on the use of social media to enhance their activities stem from the poor appreciation of the social media by the average Benue driver. In addition, as the average Benue driver and the Special Marshal(SM) gets older, they become more alien to the use of social media. It is also revealed that the more educated the average Benue driver becomes, the more ineffective the usage of the social media will be towards enhancing the activities of the SM. However, the reverse would be the case when SMs become more educated, as the effectiveness of the use of social media to enhance their activities increases. Normative beliefs and habits formed overtime are variables associated with such behavioral tendencies expressed above. To change these attitudes, It is recommended that aside organizing several training workshops and instructional materials, which must be elaborative, comprehensive and comprehensible, there should be a conscious drive towards training and retraining of the Benue driver and SMs on modern communication skills that would facilitate information dissemination, all in an effort geared towards the provision of safety tips for the Benue road user.

Keywords: Social Media, Road Special Marshal Corps, Road Safety

1. Introduction

For many people today, social media can be intimidating or simply uninteresting. It is as a fact having a major impact around the world in it terms of communication and interaction, whether one uses it or not.

The social media represents a shift from the traditional media (which includes television, newspaper, and radio) to a modernized media which include the Internet, twitter, Face-book, blogs, e-mail etc.

In essence the social media presents an opportunity to share news and information in real time on line. It provides a powerful platform for advocacy and engagement, by allowing organizations, individuals, politicians and others, a direct voice to the public to create open dialogue and contribute personal accounts of events or existing phenomena.

The fulcrum of this paper is simply to investigate whether the advantages inherent in the use of social media have been harnessed to enhance the activities of Road Special Marshals Corps (RSMC) in Benue State of Nigeria, whose activities are streamlined along enlightenment, building safety nets for road users as well as rendition of assistance to the Regular Marshals Corps of the Federal Road Safety Commission of Nigeria.

1.1 Research Questions

This paper seeks to address the following questions which also form the basis for the questionnaire sent to respondents;

Q1. Age of respondent (a) 20-30 years (b) 30-40 years (c) 40-50 years (d) 50 and above

Q2. Sex of respondent (a) Male (b) Female

Q3. Level of Education of respondent (a) Primary school (b) Secondary or high school ( c) College graduate and its equivalent (d) others

Q4. Years of experience as a Special Marshal by the respondents (a) 1-5 years (b) 6-10 years (c) 10- 15 years (d) 15-20years

Q5 What do you think is the probable social media network that special marshal are more conversant to facilitate their activities.

(a) Face-book (b)twitter (c) e-mail ,Internet and other blogs (d) none of the above

Q6. Do you probably think that the social media network can improve the activities of the Special Marshals in ensuring road safety?

(a) Yes (b) No

Q7. What do you think is probably the social media network that the average Benue driver is conversant with so as to access him to communicate on tips of road safety?

(a) Face-book (b)twitter (c) e-mail ,Internet and other blogs (d) none of the above

Q8. What do you think is the probable average age of the Benue driver (a) 20-30 years (b) 30-40 years (c) 40-50 years (d) 50 and above

Q9. Do you think a driver’s age can probably affect his ability to ensure safety for other road users (a) Yes (b) No

Q10. What is the probable driver’s age that can be associated with the type of social media network that the Benue driver is conversant with (a) young (20-50)/modern media (b) old (50 and above)/ traditional media (c) indifferent

Q11. What is probably the average level of education of the Benue driver (a) Primary school (b) Secondary or high school (c) College graduate and its equivalent (d) others

Q12. Do you think the level of education probably influence the attitude of the Benue Driver (a) Yes (b) No

Q13. What do you probably think is the set of beliefs that seems to influence the driver’s behaivour on the road?

(a) Normative beliefs (b) Habit (c ) Health beliefs (d) Appraisal of threat and coping strategies

Q14. What do you think is the probable method to be adopted in persuading the Benue driver to change his attitude to road safety

(a) Elaborative and comprehensibility techniques (b) techniques to change the implicit and unintentional attitudes (c) techniques to change the explicit and intentional attitudes (d) self regulation techniques (e) orientation and instructional techniques.

2. Literature/Theoretical Underpinnings

It is important to understand what factors influence the driver’s behaviour i.e. what motivates a driver to behave in a safe manner or not and the process of trying to change that behaviour.

These theories are significant for Road Marshals so as to assist them in the performance of their duty via the social networking, which provide an insight as to why social persuasion campaign might or not result in the desired behavioral change.

2.1 Theories Predicting Behaviour Change

2.1.1 Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned behaviour.

The theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) developed by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) suggest that people’s intentions to behave in a certain way are based on a set of weighted beliefs about the consequence of such behaviour. That is intention is a function of behaviour. The theory assumes that decision outcomes are associated with attitude and social normative beliefs which are the determinants of intentions. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) propounded by Ajzen (1985) builds on the TRA with the addition of perceived behavioral control as a determinant of intention. This additional variable extends that model to explain behaviour where the individual feels that they have control over whether aviolation occurs or not (e.g. Speeding behaviour) consequently, if you want to change behaviour, behavioral intention must first be changed, which is dependent on behavioral belief, normative belief and control belief.

2.1.2 Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour

This was propounded by Triandis (1977). It is similar to TPB. It differs in that it includes habit as a predictor of behaivour. Habit refers to how automatic a process is. This theory suggest that campaigns targeting habitual behaviours (e.g. smoking, habitual, drink drivers) will have little effect if they concentrate on intention or factors that influence intentions.

2.1.3 Health Belief Model

This was propounded by Rosen Stock (1977). This theory postulates that individuals are motivated to take positive action and promote their health due to a desire to avoid negative health outcomes. E.g. A seal belt is worn to avoid serious injury in a crash. This assumes that the driver is a rational decision – maker.

2.1.4 Protection Motivation Theory

Unlike the health belief model, this theory is able to explain the rational and irrational decision making process. This theory propounded by Rogers (1975) suggests that adaptive and mal-adaptive coping responses can result from a health threat due to two different appraisal processes, which are threat appraisal and coping appraisal.

If the threat appraisal (i.e. the perceived severity and vulnerability) is high and the coping appraisal (i.e. the response efficacy and self-efficacy) is high, the driver is motivated to do something to avert the threat, however, when coping appraisal are low and threat appraisal is high, the driver might feel helpless and unable to avert the threat to perform the recommended behaviors leading to maladaptive responses.

2.2 Theories Explaining Social Persuasion.

To understand how to persuade an individual to adopt new attitude. The following theories need to be examined:

2.2.1 Elaboration- Likelihood model

TThis model as propounded by Petty and Cacioppo (1986) views persuasion as a means of forming or changing attitudes. This suggests that the likelihood of attitudinal change is predicated on the level of elaboration of a message. That is, when individuals actively think about the campaign message, judge and evaluate it as well link the content to the information already store in their memory, the higher the feel a personal responsibility. Factors influencing an individual’s ability to process the message include prior knowledge of the message, comprehensibility of the message and whether there are any other distractions.

2.2.2 Associative – Propositional Evaluation Model

This model was propounded by Gawronski and Bodenhausen (2006). This is a dual attitude evaluation model whereby evaluation of attitude objects is based on the type of attitude, whether implicit or explicit. Implicit attitudes are not intentional and required limited cognitive resources while explicit attitudes are activated more deliberately and requiring more cognitive effort.

2.3 Theories Explaining the Process of Behaviour Change

The following theories explain the process of behaivour change so that campaigns might be designed to support the desired behaviour.

2.3.1 Theory of Self-Regulation

Carver and Scheier (1981) describe individual’s change of behaviors based on the concept of negative feedback. That is individuals compare their current situation with a goal and if a discrepancy is observed, action is taken to minimize the discrepancy. Goal disengagement may also occur when an individual decides to abandon a goal in exchange for a more realistic one.

This might not necessarily be negative but may be positive or adaptive. For example, a goal disengagement message such as slowing down speeders on 50km/h roads might also have a spill over effect into other areas such that spending is reduced in all speed zones.

2.3.2 The Trans- Theoretical Model of Change (TTMC)

The TTMC developed by Prochaska and Diclemente (1983) has its major contribution in the readiness of the individual to change their behaviour outline in six stages which do not necessarily flow in a linear pattern but may move both forward and backwards, the stages are :-

Pre-contemplation - No consideration or intention to change behaviour and change may be resisted.

Contemplation – Awareness of the problem behaviour but cost and benefit associated with the behaviour are seen as equal.

Preparation- The intention to take action is high and some reduction in problem behaviour may have occurred.

Action – some change in behaviour has occurred but much effort is required. This is the most unstable stage and risk of returning to the old behaviour is high.

Maintenance- the new behaviour has started to become habitual but still a chance of relapse exists especially when emotions are distressed. The new behaviour needs to be rewarding.

Termination- the new behaviour is established and there is no longer a temptation to return to the old behaviour.

3. Road Safety Social Media Campaign Development.

3.1 Target Audience

Identifying the target audience is a key factor to the campaign success. The more that is known about the target audience characteristics, knowledge, beliefs, behaviours, social environment and stage of behaviour change, the greater the chance of developing an effective campaign that might influence attitudes and/ or behaviour.

3.2 The Fit between a message and its audience.

Effectiveness can be increased if message content, form and style are tailored to the predispositions and abilities of the distinct sub-groups. This is termed as tailoring or customizing the message to be communicated to the intended group for clarity in understanding the content of the message.

3.3. Means of Communication

The number of media choices available has continued to expand overtime. Given the wide media choice, decisions on what media to use should be made based on the target audience and the features of the media itself, in terms of reach, selectiveness, information capacity, lifespan, ability to gain attention and cost. A list of the advantages and disadvantages of audiovisual, printed, outdoor, interpersonal and electronic media have been compiled by Delhomme et al (2009) and are provided in the table 1,2,3,4,5 below.

1. The Audio-Visuals Media

A. Television
B. Radio
C. Cinema

2. The Printed Media

A. Newspaper
B. Magazines
C. Flyers. Leaflets, brochures
D. Direct Mailings

3. Interpersonal communication

A. Face-to-Face
B. Telephone

4. Electronic Support

A. E-News-letters, Direct e-mailing; SMS, Internet Discussion, viral marketing.
B. Internet Websites; face book, twitter, blog etc.

5. Outdoor Media

A. Bill Boards, poster, Banners, Variable message signs

5. Methodological Issues and Data Analysis

The population was drawn from the Four Hundred and Eighty-Seven (487)Road Safety Marshal Corps(RSMC) of Benue State which is one of the 36 states in Nigeria with an estimated population of about 4.3million people and placed 9th in the 2006 census based on data from the statistics of the National Population Commission. The RSMC is a voluntary group established by Law in order to assist the Regular Road Safety Corps of the Federal Road Safety Commission, towards ensuring road safety on the Nigerian roads. The RSMC of the Benue State Command has twenty-two (22) units spread across the State with a minimum of ten(10) to a maximum of twenty-five(25) membership per unit. These location and number of units are categorized as follows; Makurdi (11), Katsina -Ala (2), Gboko (3), Yandev (1), Oturkpo (2), Aliade (1), Ogbokolo (1), Oturkpa (1). Four hundred and eighty-seven (487) questionnaires were sent and Four hundred and eighty (480) were returned representing 98.6%. The results are reflected hereunder;

Table 6: Table indicating Respondents Responses

A cursory look at table indicates that most of the respondents were between the ages 40-50years (79.2%) with road safety experience ranging from 1-5years (52.1%) and with most of them having a minimum collegiate education or its equivalent, which represent 62.5%. in terms of gender most of the respondents are male with a pie of 97.9%.

In terms of knowledge of the social media, while most do agree by 83.3% that it would enhance the activities of Special Marshall(SM), it is ironic that most respondents at 70.8% are not conversant withn the use of social media to improve these activities. This scenario is worse with the average Benue driver featured with an educational level between primary school to secondary school and an average age ranging from 30-50years, both represented by 73%, with a statistic of the knowledge of the social media depicted at 72.9%. It is also cursory to note that a statistic of 83.3% is reported for the driver’s age been a function of his ability to ensure safety for other road users. It is also worthy to note that the younger a driver is (20-50years) the more he is prone to accept the use of the social media by 50% as against the older drivers (50years and above) who are more prone to accept the traditional media and is captured by the 40% statistic.

Attitudes been a function of education also defines the behavioral tendencies of people. This argument is subscribed by the 83.3% statistic as enunciated in responses to question 12 in the above table. Other determinants associated with the driver’s behavioral tendencies are normative beliefs, habits, health beliefs and driver’s self appraisal of coping strategies to envisaged threats. Reported responses of these determinants as deduced from question 13 are 31.3%, 35.4%, 20.8% and 12.5% respectively.

Attitudinal change requires a conscious effort towards evolving the requisite attitudes. In this connection, question 14 has addressed the issue of persuading the driver to change bad attitudes that have the propensity to put road users at risk through elaborative and comprehensive techniques, techniques or processes of changing the driver’s unintentional and intentional attitudes, as well as setting up orientation and instructional techniques. These statistics are reported as 41.7%, 27.1% and 31.2% respectively.

To complement the descriptive analysis as highlighted above, it became necessary to carryout a Logistic Regression, which Gujarati (2005) maintained that it is a model in which the regressand is a binary or dichotomous variable that is regressed against other regressors to reveal the extent and direction of relationships amongst the variables studied. The use of the Logit regression is adopted because of its wide use in analyzing qualitative data as well as its superiority over the Linear probability model, Ordinary Least squares and weighted Least Squares in enabling the use of nonlinear estimating procedures by using the method of maximum likelihood, with the likelihood function formed by assuming independence over the observations.

The simplification and log likelihood transformation of the logit model for the purpose of this work is stated in the structural equation below;

structural equation below
When Eqn (1) is explicitly stated we have;

βo = intercept

Q1= Probable age of the respondents

Q3= Level of education of the respondent (coded as 1=Primary, 2=Secondary, 3= others, 4= College graduate and above or its equivalent)

Q5= SM knowledge of social media (coded as conversant=1, Not conversant=0)

Q7= Benue Driver’s Knowledge of social media (coded as conversant=1, Not conversant=0)

Q8=Probable Age of the Benue driver

Q11= Level of education of the Benue driver = (coded as 1=Primary, 2=Secondary, 3= others, 4= College graduate and above or its equivalent)

Using the e-views 7 software package for the analysis of eqn. 2 the following results in Table 7 were obtained;

Table 7: Results Obtained For Analyzing Equation 2

Each slope coefficient is a partial slope coefficient that measures the change in the estimated Logit for a unit change in the value of each of the given regressors while holding other regressors constant.

In this wise, one can observe from the above results in table 7 that a unit change in the observed values of Q1 Q3 Q5 Q7 Q8 and Q11 will change the average estimated Logit by -0.012, 1.73, -0.25, -0.70, -0.36 and -0.32, respectively, while noting that all the coefficients expressed negative relationships with the estimated Logit except Q3. Note also that all the coefficients are not statistically significant except for Q3 ,Q8 and C. However, a combination of all the regressors have significant impact on the ability of the social media to improve the activities of Road Safety Marshal in Benue State as given by the Likelihood ratio(LR) statistic of 198,12 with its almost zero probability. The R2 McF= 0.46 implies that 46% variation is explained by the effect of social media to enhance activities of the Road safety Marshall given the sampled respondents.

A more meaningful explanation of table 7 is to derive the anti-log or exponential values of all the partial coefficients (B) listed above and results placed in the column Exp (B). This result is interpreted in terms of the odds ratio or likelihood favoring the occurrence of the activity that social media will improve the activities of Road Safety Special Marshall.

From table 7 above it is documented that as the respondents age, respondents’ knowledge of social media network, knowledge of social media by the Benue driver, age of the Benue driver as well as the level of education of the Benue driver increases, the likelihood favoring the improvement of activities of road marshal through the use of social media will decrease by 0.99, 0.78, 0.50, 0.70 and 0.73 times respectively. Furthermore, as the level of education of the respondents increases, the likelihood favoring an improvement in the activities of Road Safety Marshall via the use of social media also increases by 5.64 times.

6. Summary/Conclusion/Recommendation

From the foregoing discourse, it is pertinent to highlight the following critical issues that were raised;

That to facilitate enlightenment amongst road users by Special marshals, it requires their understanding of the psychological attitudes of road user by the collation of information through social media or social networking.

That such behavioral trait enable in streaming campaign messages which are focus, with the right timing, intensity and right channel of dissemination of information.

That as both RSMC and the Benue driver grows older, the probability of them becoming alien to social media networks exist.

That as the Benue driver becomes more educated, there exist the likelihood that the use of the social media to access them so as to enhance the activities of RSMC becomes ineffective, while the reverse been the case when the Road Safety Marshall Corps becomes more educated, as such the likelihood of the use of social media network to enhance their own activities becomes more effective.

That despite the poor appreciative skills of the RSMC to existing social media in Benue state, they have shown apathy towards improving these skills in enhancing their activities, which probably stems from the poor social media network appreciation exhibited by the Benue driver.

That a combination of normative beliefs and habits are the key variables that influence the driver’s attitude in Benue State.

That the techniques to be adopted to change some of the drivers negative attitudes should be such that they should target different classes of audiences, which should be instructional, elaborative and comprehensible.

The importance of the social media cannot be over emphasized. Philips and Torquato (2009) agreed no less as they acknowledged the ever increasing use of the websites to deliver road safety messages, particularly to reach younger target audience. Websites are often central in campaigns that focus on ‘edutainment’ incorporating information, games and videos in a way that is not possible through other media. However, it should be noted that Bill boards, posters and television can be used to promote the usage of the website to access further information on road safety tips.

It is therefore recommended that all Road Marshall Units and Road Marshals in Benue State should open unit e-mail accounts and individual Facebook, Twitter accounts to facilitate information dissemination in real time as well as engage in social networking to provide safety tips to the general public.

It is further recommended that aside providing several instructional workshops to drivers on the social media, there is also the need for continuous training and retraining of SM so as to keep them abreast with modern communication skills so as to facilitate their provision of safety tips for the Benue citizenry.


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