Scotland: ‘no evidence’ pre-driver interventions are effective

10.23 | 3 July | | 5 comments

Image: Transport Scotland

The time has come to step back and consider how pre-driver interventions can have the most impact on improving road safety in Scotland, a new report has concluded.

The report, authored by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), says there is no evidence to demonstrate that pre-driver interventions in Scotland are currently effective in terms of improving road safety on their own.

Commissioned by Transport Scotland, the review and assessment of pre-driver interventions adds that no one type of intervention works better than another, and suggests a more coordinated approach could be helpful.

Dr Neale Kinnear, one of the report’s authors, said: “We found a high prevalence of pre-driver interventions in Scotland. But there’s currently no robust evidence that any of them are effective at improving road safety on their own.”

Transport Scotland commissioned the report to obtain a better understanding of how these interventions contribute to Scotland’s Road Safety Framework.

Out of the most common forms – classroom, theatre or demonstration, expo-style and off-road – the report said the latter offered the most potential for ‘meaningful impact’.

However, it said it also had the biggest potential for harm through adverse unintended consequences by ‘promoting early licensure’.

Dr Kinnear said: “All these methods have pros and cons, but none specifically stand out as more effective than any other. However, that’s not to say they should be completely devalued.

“Although we didn’t uncover any evidence of an intervention that’s shown to work on its own, what we did get was a level of detail that we hadn’t had before.

“It’s clear there are a lot of enthusiastic professionals with great ideas, and they are looking for greater support and guidance.”

Evidence was gathered via reviews of pre-driver interventions and interviews with local authorities and stakeholders.

Dr Kinnear said: “We need to be realistic about what such interventions can achieve. They should be used to support a road safety framework and strategy, not improve safety on their own.

“You’re unlikely to change someone’s behaviour in one classroom session. But you can use that session to get across key messages and information that support a wider strategy.

“The enthusiasm and desire to do something within communities is really strong. Going out to meet the people designing, running and attending these schemes, it’s obvious that the desire for something for pre-drivers is present. What that something is requires coordinated consideration.”

TRL has made a series of long and short-term recommendations which include developing a consistent pre-driver intervention, setting realistic expectations, improving evaluation approaches and encouraging adoption of behaviour change techniques.


 

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    Duncan is spot on IMO. It is better to have ‘something (worthwhile) to do’ than to ‘have to do something’. If you don’t have something (worthwhile) to do then, in those circumstances, it is probably better to do nothing.


    Michael, Glasgow
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
    +5

    Putting it more simply and if I may borrow from Dr Ackoff’s quaint vocabulary, the reason many drivers and riders don’t have collisions day-in-day out, year-in-year out is because they are doing things righter and not wronger, than those who are susceptible to collisions. It’s not random, or coincidence, it is their own individual behaviour that ensures it (or not if they are in the collision prone group). Some of that may have come from past education and training as mentioned in the news item or, more likely, from their own individual make-up and desire to conform, not to be anti-social and to take their responsibilities seriously enough (self-training and education) not to want to harm themselves or others. Where the system may have ‘failed’, is in seemingly being too tolerant of such behaviour, which allows it to continue, or indeed having allowed it in the first place, by not being more selective and restrictive when giving out driving licenses.


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (4)
    --2

    Dr Russell Ackoff was one of the pre-eminent systems thinkers of recent times. An associate and friend of Deming, Dr Ackoff exposed much that was wrong with the traditional linear approach to understanding the world’s problems.

    A good paper from him here: http://www.acasa.upenn.edu/RLAConfPaper.pdf


    Duncan MacKillop, Lower Quinton
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
    +1

    “..righter..”? “..wronger..”? How old was he when he said this? Five?

    Editor’s note: this post is in response to Duncan MacKillop’s post (below)


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (5)
    --4

    Pre-drivr interventions can work astoundingly well, so long as they are the right interventions.

    The interventions we currently see are perhaps the perfect example of Dr Russell Ackoff’s quote that “There’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right things. The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. This is very significant because almost every problem confronting our society is a result of the fact that our public policy makers are doing the wrong things and are trying to do them righter.”

    The general acceptance by the road safety industry that it’s driver and rider ‘behaviour’ that’s the problem and much effort is expended on trying to change it with absolutely no effect, bears out Dr Ackoff’s words.


    Duncan MacKillop, Lower Quinton
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    0