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  • Lisa Dorn

How to Change Driver Behaviour

By Lisa Dorn: Founder, PsyDrive



This is the final blog in the series to introduce the topics covered in the five modules for Level 1 of the Human Factors and Road Risk Management Programme. For the final module we start with the well-known premise that published reviews and meta-analyses of skills-based driver training for licensing, post-licensing and remedial interventions finds no effects on crash involvement. This makes sense when we consider that the main reasons why people crash is due to unsafe driving behaviours (distraction, fatigue, speed etc.). Therefore, the focus for managing road risk must be driver behaviour if we are to make a meaningful impact on road safety.

   

The module then presents a series of interventions that aim to change driver behaviour. We ask the question – what is the evidence that behavioural interventions deliver a sustainable behavioural change? For example, a popular approach to managing fleet driver behaviour is the use of telematics (in-vehicle recording device) that allows safety-specific information related to a driver's on-road behaviour to be collected. Some devices also provide drivers with feedback after a journey. Reduction in safety related events and crash reductions have been found to range between 20% to 50% across several studies. However, the effect of telematics may not be sustained indefinitely if monitoring driver behaviour is not carried out consistently. Crash rates may return to baseline levels and in some cases, behaviour may return to pre-intervention levels and even worsen as drivers adapt behaviour over time.

 

We discuss some of the challenges of influencing driver behaviour by considering how driving style becomes established through repeated initially conscious, motivated behaviour. Then driving behaviour becomes habitual and unconscious and habits like not wearing a seatbelt can become resistant to change. Interventions to change driver behaviour are often designed based on intuition and personal knowledge rather than behavioural theory. Most interventions focus on increasing awareness and knowledge of risk-taking behaviours like not wearing a seatbelt. Studies show that whilst there may be some benefit reported in attitude change, the effect on attitude is often short-term, and evidence for longer term behavioural change is sparse. Realistically, a one-off intervention cannot be expected to change behaviour and a new approach to changing driver behaviour is required.

 

More recently, the design of behavioural interventions have incorporated behaviour change techniques (BCTs) (Box and Dorn, 2023). BCTs are defined as “Observable, replicable and irreducible component[s] of an intervention designed to alter or redirect causal processes that regulate behaviour” (Michie et al., 2013). The module then considers how interventions can be designed using evidence-based methods and techniques for changing driver behaviour.

 

To find out more about behavioural change, book your place on Level 1 of the Human Factors and Road Risk Management Programme.

 

 

 

References

Box, E., & Dorn, L. (2023). A cluster randomised controlled trial (cRCT) evaluation of a pre-driver education intervention using the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Transportation research part F: traffic psychology and behaviour, 94, 379-397.

 

Michie, S., Richardson, M., Johnston, M., Abraham, C., Francis, J., Hardeman, W., ... & Wood, C. E. (2013). The behavior change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: building an international consensus for the reporting of behavior change interventions. Annals of behavioral medicine, 46(1), 81-95.

 

 

PsyDrive is a specialist provider of accredited CPD courses, research, assessment, and interventions for improved road safety. We have a well-established Human Factors capability with a network of associates delivering training, consultancy, and evidence-based interventions for safer road user behaviour.

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