Shock tactics don't work

9th May 2008 at 01:00
I refer to Stuart Waiton's article on road safety publicity and education (April 25)
I refer to Stuart Waiton's article on road safety publicity and education (April 25). He quotes advertisements which employ emotive and shocking tactics to awaken a sense of pending doom in drivers and passengers alike and looks back wistfully to a time when advertisements were informative and catchy.

All the examples he quoted were designed and developed by the Department for Transport (DfT) in London. Road Safety Scotland (RSS), part of the Scottish Government, has developed publicity materials along a quite different line. Recall, for example, our most recent "Drink Drive" advertisement - no blood, no gore. A young driver is pulled over, a child questions his father, a wife is let down, a boss regrets he has to sack his young employee. The strap line reads: "Drink Driving, Don't Risk It".

Alternatively, recall our driver behaviour ad - two identical cars, two identical drivers. One drives impatiently, the other is courteous. One drives at work harrassed, the other calm. The strap line reads: "Drive Better, Feel Better".

While the more graphic adverts made by DfT may well have more visual impact, studies tell us that they don't necessarily change behaviour. We simply don't think these alarming events are going to happen to us. RSS prefers road safety messages that impact on lifestyles, rather than the hard-hitting approach taken by others.

All our publicity and education materials are evidence-based. We research and evaluate all our resources. Studies tell us that shock-horror does not change people's behaviour.

Had your writer done his research, he would have realised that, in Scotland, "today's road safety experts" don't "moralise about killer drivers". I invite Mr Waiton to visit Road Safety Scotland, so we might benefit from some positive coverage from him on road safety education.

Kate Wheaton, education adviser, Road Safety Scotland.

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