Road safety professionals involved in the production of pre-driver theatre and workshop education programmes should reduce the focus on risk and consequences, replacing this with ‘high potential’ behaviour change techniques (BCTs).
That is one of three key interim recommendations from a study currently being carried out by Elizabeth Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation.
Elizabeth’s research, titled Pre-Driver Theatre & Workshop Education Research: reviewing current practice and trialling a new approach in the UK, is the subject of a keynote presentation broadcast on 9 November as part of the Festival of Road Safety.
The research is part of Elizabeth’s doctorate studies at Cranfield University. The overall purpose of the project is to find the best ways to use pre-driver theatre and workshop education (TIE) to improve young and novice driver safety.
The project aims to evaluate whether the content and format of TIE interventions can help pre-drivers to develop effective strategies for coping with road related risk.
In the presentation, Elizabeth first outlines the research programme, before going on to reveal interim project findings and her recommendations for action.
Elizabeth references a study carried out in 2017 in which Neale Kinnear stresses the need in TIE productions to move away from ‘seeking to raise awareness of the consequences of young driver risk’, to ‘developing the strategies and personal and social skills to cope with young driver and passenger risk factors’.
Another of Elizabeth’s recommendations is to focus on strategies and mechanisms for managing risk, by supporting both safe passenger and safe driver behaviours – by improving communication skills, providing example strategies and coaching passengers and drivers to speak up.
She also suggests encouraging discussions within social groups about expectations around car use, highlighting how technology can be used to support safe choices, and showing drivers how to develop strategies for maintaining attention, especially in challenging driving conditions.
Her final recommendation is to ensure that any information provided in a TIE performance ‘counts’, through ‘clear signposting to safety promoting actions’.
Examples include building an expectation among pre-drivers that learning to drive is a 12-month process, involving 100 hours of varied supervised practice, and stressing the importance of hazard perception training.
Parents also need to be engaged with the learning to drive process by, for example agreeing a zero-alcohol limit and understanding how to manage driver fatigue, vehicle choice and using parental management tools including telematics and parent-teen agreements.
Elizabeth’s recommendations can be found approximately 20mins into the presentation.