A number of road safety teams across England are deploying humour in an effort to raise awareness of road safety issues among children and parents, reports TransportXtra (6 Feb).
Teaming up with creative agency Serious Comedy, road safety officers are distributing booklets featuring amusing scenarios to shed light on dangerous parking and driving as well as offering children advice on how to cycle safely to school.
One of the guides – ‘Should You Sack Your Chauffeur?’ – shows parents committing offences such as using a mobile phone while driving, to the chagrin and dismay of their child passengers.
Another, entitled ‘Why Animals Can’t Ride Bikes’, has a procession of ‘calamitous creatures’ committing a series of cycling errors.
The illustrated booklets are being used by councils including Peterborough, Hampshire, East Ayrshire, Dudley, Thurrock, Southend on Sea, Cambridgeshire as well as a number of London Boroughs, including Harrow Council which makes the booklets available to every pupil in selected year groups.
Jeffrey Sarpong, Harrow’s senior road safety officer, said: “Humour is an effective way of influencing behaviour, especially for children. The humorous elements of the booklets make them memorable and help with interaction and keeping them engaged on the road safety message.”
“Each school operates differently – some schools use them as part of a class discussion or incorporate as part of a ‘road safety/school travel’ themed activity. Others simply hand them out to pupils to take home.”
Darren Ruddell, creative director of Serious Comedy, said: “Humour breaks down walls and disarms resistance. If you can make someone laugh, or even smile, you’ve got them on your side and they’re more open to taking your message on board.”
“If something makes you laugh you want to share it. That’s the holy grail for a lot of advertising agencies; to make something for a brand that people want to share.
“Kids in particular get bored of being told what to do, or even worse what not to do, and straight away the barrier goes up. But the content we produce is couched in terms they associate with fun and enjoyment. They want to read it and show it to their friends.”
Want to know more about children and road safety? < Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre