The dangers of sensationalising

Safe Drive Stay Alive was a hard hitting drama-based training tool, run by the emergency services and was previously delivered to pre-drivers aged 14 to 17 in parts of Scotland.

Safe Drive Stay Alive excerpt

“As the drama unfolds and the emergency services arrive on the scene, the faces on film literally step onto stage. Pausing the film for a moment, they speak to the audience about their experiences, the reactions of the driver and passengers, the medical implications and how seeing such trauma affects them personally. Until the end, the audience is unsure which of the car’s occupants will make it.”

Recent research into what works and what doesn’t

The project has received a number of awards and accolades since its inception, including a Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award.

Recent research, however, has raised concerns about the effectiveness of hard-hitting approaches suggesting that the emotional impact may mean that they are doing more harm than good.

Unintended consequences

‘Simply providing people with ‘cold’ information about risky practices is unlikely to lead to substantial changes in behaviour.’ (Durkin & Tolmie, 2010)

Putting young people under pressure

Communicating that risky behaviours are frequent and ‘normal’ may produce exactly the opposite effect to that intended.

It’s been argued that telling young drivers that young people drive too fast, take unnecessary risks, show off to their friends and peers and place the young person under some pressure to do likewise, whatever their initial inclinations.

Glamorising risk

Indeed, the Safe Drive Stay Alive evaluation report itself warned that the ways in which the dangers of driving too fast had been presented in the intervention may in fact have glamorised risk taking and dangerous driving behaviour for risk taking groups.