In a new report published this week by the RAC Foundation, Professor Frank McKenna of the University of Reading calls for a ‘fundamental re-assessment of how road safety education is implemented and evaluated’.
In the report, ‘Education in Road Safety: Are we getting it right?’, Professor McKenna says that while road safety educational schemes are plausible, uncontroversial and address matters of public concern, evidence shows that many are ineffective.
Professor McKenna says: “Educational interventions are often designed in the absence of theory or any formal body of evidence. In some circumstances they may inadvertently increase exposure to risk.”
He goes on to claim that there is a growing impatience at the role of education in professional circles with some arguing that educational measures serve to divert attention and resources away from other safety measures that might achieve better results.
“Having examined a broad array of public health interventions, it might be hoped that a definitive conclusion could be reached that educational interventions are unambiguously successful. The results do not support that conclusion.”
Commenting on the report, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is not being said that all educational interventions fail, but rather that much more evidence needs to be collected to show which ones actually work.
“This report concludes that when it comes to road safety relying on ‘education, education, education’ is simply not enough.
“Whilst it might tick the right boxes, far more work needs to be done to evaluate the success – or otherwise – of these projects.
“Ministers should not use this report as an excuse to cut education projects, but as a reason to demand educational schemes are of the highest standard.”