Continuing our review of the 2018 FirstCar Young Driver Road Safety Awards’ winners, this week we profile ‘DriveStart’, which is delivered by Agilysis on behalf of Safer Roads Berkshire.
Now in its fourth year and held annually as part of the Young Driver Focus conference, the FirstCar Young Driver Road Safety Awards recognise the efforts of road safety professionals to reduce casualties among young drivers.
At the 2018 awards’ ceremony on 25 April, DriveStart won in the ‘Best Partnership Scheme’ category.
DriveStart was described by the judges as a programme that ‘boasts a truly excellent research base’.
The judges added that not only has the team ‘tried to re-engineer the experience event in road safety with demonstrable effects’, but there is also ‘clear partnership working throughout this innovative scheme’.
Launched in 2011, DriveStart is a long-term young driver programme which centres around a series of education days. The initiative is a partnership between public sector road safety professionals and private organisations, including Reading Football Club.
Coordinated through Safer Roads Berkshire, the scheme has an operational budget of around £13k per annum – provided by local authority road safety teams – to deliver six experience events for around 200 young drivers.
DriveStart benefits from support provided by a number of commercial organisations.
Reading Football Club provides free facilities for the classroom content and the driving experience.
Input on vehicle maintenance is provided without charge by Kwik Fit, and driving instructors are provided by Young Driver™ and the AA at a discounted rate, enabling Safer Roads Berkshire to open up the programme for free to participants from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Rather than using ‘fear appeal’, DriveStart deploys behavioural science in a bid to ‘demonstrably improve perspectives on subjective norms, reduce behavioural willingness and increase self-reported vulnerability in participants’.
Steve Ferris, programme manager at Agilysis, said: “Through this critical evaluation of other schemes, it became evident that a new approach was required.
“Qualitative evaluations of a pilot programme revealed that there was a danger of normalising bad behaviour through conventional approaches to pre-driver interventions, which often use shock tactics and emphasise illegal activities.
“The behavioural science utilised within DriveStart is completely pioneering. The development of ‘experience’ events, thoroughly re-designed utilising the Prototype Willingness Model as the underlying behavioural theory, was a first for road safety.
“Reframing the entire intervention on the basis of behavioural science has required the partners involved in delivering DriveStart to adjust their content, expectations and tone of delivery. Presenters are coached to operate within the established guidance, ensuring that the innovative new approach is not compromised.”
Evaluation of the scheme shows a ‘significant movement in the desired direction for many of the behavioural aspects investigated’ including mobile phone use, peer distraction, drink driving, drug driving and texting.
Steve Ferris said: “DriveStart has evolved to its current position because of the strength of evaluation. Qualitative and quantitative techniques have been used to understand the impact of the intervention and to refine the design.
“The level of engagement and satisfaction among participants was higher than previous or comparator ‘traditional’ interventions based on ‘fear appeals’.
“Feedback has shown that they appreciate interactivity, especially where this is reinforcing positive behaviour, showing them how to engage in correct actions and providing them with coping mechanisms for challenging situations.”
DriveStart is now receiving international attention and featured at international conferences in New Zealand, India and Estonia during 2017.
Click here to read the first article of the series, in which we profiled Kent County Council’s ‘Speak Out’ campaign.
Click here to read part two focusing on Cambs Drive iQ – developed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership.