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.