Where it can go wrong

Professor Frank McKenna in 2010 produced an acerbic review of the success of driver education programmes. He argues that rather than deterring individuals from engaging in the risky behaviour, educational initiatives may make the behaviour seem more attractive or more acceptable, or make individuals think that because they know more about the risks they are better able to handle them.

Several reasons why educational interventions may not be effective are suggested:

  • they are not based on a theoretical framework of behavioural change
  • they assume that people engaging in risky behaviour are unaware of the risk whereas they may decide to engage in these behaviours despite or even because of the risk
  • they are of insufficient duration to achieve long-term change

McKenna concludes that we cannot assume that educational initiatives, however well-intentioned, are effective, and we must evaluate them.

Relatively few programmes are based on either theory or evidence, and relatively little is evaluated ...When road safety education interventions have been evaluated, a range of reviews have failed to indicate the success of safety education ... A number of authors have noted that not only is there little evidence to support driver education, but ‘Even more discouraging, a few studies even showed a safety disbenefit – that is an increase, rather than a decrease in crash involvement’... Ker et al. (2003: 311) sum up their systematic review of post licence training concluding that ‘there is no evidence that driver education programmes are effective in preventing road traffic injuries or crashes’.

McKenna, 2010

Get into Gear attempts to meet this training need.

All initiatives should be subject to a well-designed evaluation programme (perhaps taking advantage of ‘E-valu-it’) and all those working in the field should receive training to ensure that they have an appropriate level of comprehension of the wider road safety issues and the technical skills to fulfil their role.

Saul Jevons (2011)

Resources

Education in Road Safety: Are we getting it right? McKenna, F. (2010) Report 10/113. London: RAC Foundation.

Road safety funding: no time to apply the brakes, Jevons, S. (2011). Local Transport Today, Supplement on Road Safety Towards 2020. Summer 2011.

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