National Conference – Behavioural Change Techniques (BCTs) in road safety interventions

12.00 | 15 November 2017 | | 2 comments


Images and soundbites from ‘Behavioural Change Techniques (BCTs) in road safety interventions’ – the fifth session of the 2017 National Road Safety Conference.

About the session
This session will look to answer to following questions:

  • What are BCTs?
  • How can BCTs (practically) be deployed in road safety interventions?
  • Case studies of interventions featuring BCTs (knowingly or unwittingly)

The speakers

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10.50 – Robin Wythe, road safety officer, Telford & Wrekin Council

Robin Wythe has been a Road Safety Officer working for Telford & Wrekin Council for the past two and half years.

Robin delivers interventions to all ages, small and large groups, and prefers interactive workshops and close engagement.

Presentation: Use of BCTs in a KS1 pedestrian intervention for Telford & Wrekin schools

What is the problem we want to address?
Young children near to the school unsupervised near a busy road

Decide which model of intervention you are going to use

  • Based on Trans-theoretical model of change
  • Used because it is simple to understand and very transferrable
  • Gives a clear model to use
  • We decided on a morning classroom session followed by an afternoon on the street
  • And we’ll measure it before and after

Summary of intervention

  • Find out the problem
  • Decide which model of intervention to use
  • Try to measure the knowledge/behaviour of your group before and after the intervention
  • Find out what problems they don’t know they have got (called pre-contemplation)
  • Make them understand the problems and that it is real for them (contemplation)
  • Teach the group how to overcome the problem (planning)
  • Act out the new found knowledge and practice it with them (action)
  • Find a way of following it up with more action and monitoring (maintenance)

10.35 – Dan Campsall, marketing and communications director, Road Safety Analysis

Dan Campsall is an experienced marketing and communications professional, who has oversight of a portfolio of campaigns, PR and marketing initiatives that embraces everything from car seat safety and child pedestrian training, to young drivers and motorcyclists.

In a road safety career spanning more than a decade, Dan has been involved in a number of pioneering and critically acclaimed initiatives including MAST online, and Safer Roads Berkshire

Presentation: Distraction in road-safety interventions: challenging social norms without using ‘fear appeal’

"Judging by the number of road safety campaigns that make use of fear appeals, there is a firm belief in the ability to ‘scare people straight’”
Hoekstra & Wegman (2011)

Young driver behaviour baselines/intentions are very high – but what they think everyone else does is very different

The things that are informing their behaviour are not simply their intentions

Behaviour change techniques used in DriveStart programme

1.2. Problem solving
1.4. Action planning
1.8. Behavioural contract
3.1. Social support (unspecified)
5.2. Salience of consequences
5.3. Information about social & environmental consequences
6.1. Demonstration of the behaviour
6.3. Information about others’ approval
7.1. Prompts/cues
10.5. Social incentive
13.1. Identification of self as role model

Implementing BCTs in DriveStart

The presentation will inform attendees about the actual low levels of drink-driving and that society (including their friends and peers) disapproves of those who drink and drive. A game will be played by attendees to demonstrate their vulnerability if they did choose to drink and drive. The game will emphasise the consequences of performing the behaviour in a memorable way. The game cards will serve as reminder of these consequences. The session will provide the attendees with the tools they can use to plan a night out and ask them to identify ways they could deal with someone who plans to drink and drive, including planning their own subsequent behaviour.

5.3: Information about social and environmental consequences
6.3: Information about others’ approval
5.2: Salience of consequences
7.1: Prompts/cues
1.4: Action planning
1.2: Problem solving

What does DriveStart achieve?

Improves social norms

Increases sense of reported vulnerability (being involved in an incident)

Lower stated behavioural willingness to engage in activities like talking on a mobile at the wheel

Outcomes of the newly designed programme were significantly increased

What next?

  • Not threat appeal
  • Interactivity and technology could be of value with this group


10.20 – Deirdre O’Reilly, head of social research and behaviour change, Safety Group, Highways England

Deirdre O’Reilly has recently joined Highways England to lead a team to deliver social research and behavioural change with a particular focus on road safety.

She is the former head of social and behavioural research at the Department for Transport and has over 20 years’ experience of delivering road safety and  transport research and evidence to inform policy and practise in central government.

Presentation: Paving the way: putting behaviour change at the heart of a safe system

Moving from research into practice

Moving from a reactive approach to road safety to a proactive approach

Refreshing the approach

  • An up to date understanding of behaviour as the outcome of a system
  • A long-term approach to both evidence and intervention design
  • Greater collaboration in developing and delivering a shared research agenda
  • Investment in a robust, accessible evidence base
  • Taking the time to stop, think and discuss

Leaders in organisations across the sectors

  • Build and sustain a safety culture
  • Make room for meaningful behaviour change activity
  • Broaden the mix of interventions
  • Model and contribute to sector wide agendas
  • Drive smarter more co-ordinated funding of research 
  • Democratise data and evidence
  • Raise standards & skills across the sector


  • Understand and engage in the wider context/agendas – sustainable travel, public health, technology & the environment
  • Build and sustain a road safety culture
  • Take a multi-disciplinary, partnership & long-term approach
  • Apply data-driven, evidence-based behavioural insights and behaviour change techniques across the whole of the safe system
  • Democratise data and make it available & accessible
  • Monitor & evaluate to establish what works, for whom, & in what contexts

Sustainable behaviour comes from effective, prolonged, multi faceted and well targeted programmes of interventions. Broaden the range of interventions & invest in building wider public consensus on key road safety issues.

10.05 – Dr Fiona Fylan, Brainbox Research

Dr Fiona Fylan is a health psychologist who specialises in understanding the decisions that people make that affect their health and wellbeing, and how to help people make more appropriate or less risky decisions

Presentation: Using behaviour change techniques: guide for the road safety community

10 steps

  • Define the problem and target audience
  • Understand the context
  • Use a behaviour change theory
  • Define the objectives
  • Select appropriate BCTs
  • Apply behavioural insights
  • Build the intervention
  • Pilot and adapt
  • Describe the intervention
  • Evaluate

The best way to influence behaviour is to change intentions

There is a lot more interest in emotions these days

Behavioural insights

  • People don’t like losses
  • People prefer to do nothing
  • People can be primed
  • People are social
  • People believe it won’t happen to them
  • People create stories

09.50 – Ian Edwards, Road Safety GB Academy

Ian Edwards is an independent road safety consultant who has developed and delivers several of Road Safety GB’s courses, including the Foundation and Behavioural Change course.

Presentation: A step by step guide to using behavioural change techniques

Behavioural change is about applying:

  • Methods
  • Models
  • Techniques

But these need to be applied well and carefully thought through

Behaviour is complex and is influenced by many factors including:

Rewards /loss
Personal values / attitudes
Personality traits
Previous experiences
What others do
Regulations and laws

Before we can hope to influence behaviour we need to:

  • Define the behaviour
  • Select the target behaviour
  • Specify the target behaviour
  • Identify what needs to change

‘Too many interventions try to achieve too much’

COM-B model



• Make sure you understand the behaviour you are looking to address
• Behaviour does not occur in a vacuum
• Define and analyse the behaviour
• Don’t do too much – be focused

‘Behaviour and behavioural change is not simple, it is complex and therefore we need to carefully plan and not simply jump in!’




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    Forget systems on this occasion Duncan. BCT is just a posh title with too much complicated waffle attached but the basic concept is sound. Changing attitudes is what salesmen do all the time – and it does work quite well. Ask any successful salesman.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Nobody actually believes all this BCT stuff do they? Promoting behavioural change is a great way of extracting money from the uninformed, but it has absolutely no demonstrable value when it comes to improving the safety of a system.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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