Sensationalising

Safe Drive Stay Alive is a hard hitting drama-based approach, run by the emergency services and delivered to pre-drivers aged 14 to 17 in parts of Scotland.

Safe Drive Stay Alive (for pre-drivers)

The website describes the intervention:

“As the drama unfolds and the emergency services arrive on the scene, the faces on film literally step onto stage. Pausing the film for a moment, they speak to the audience about their experiences, the reactions of the driver and passengers, the medical
implications and how seeing such trauma affects them personally. Until the end, the audience is unsure which of the car's occupants will make it.”

The project has received a number of awards and accolades since its inception, including a Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award.

Recent research, however, has raised concerns about the effectiveness of hard-hitting approaches suggesting that the emotional impact may mean that they are doing more harm than good.

Unintended consequences

Simply providing people with ‘cold’ information about risky practices is unlikely to lead to substantial changes in behaviour.

Durkin & Tolmie, 2010.

The communication that risky behaviours are frequent and ‘normal’ may produce exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Telling young drivers that young drivers drive too fast, take unnecessary risks, show off to their friends and peers, watch each other doing foolish things in cars on ‘YouTube‘ places the young person under some pressure to do likewise, whatever their initial
inclinations.

Indeed, the Safe Drive Stay Alive evaluation report itself warned that the ways in which the dangers of driving too fast had been presented in the intervention may in fact have glamourised risk taking and dangerous driving behaviour for risk taking groups.

And the ‘young driver’ problem is actually the ‘some young drivers’ problem: if 1 in 5 are involved in an accident in the 12 months post-test, 4 in 5 are not.

Resources

Safe Drive Stay Alive Evaluation Report 2008

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