Wheels, skills and thrills: a social marketing trial to reduce aggressive driving from young men in deprived areas

Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Sep;58:148-57. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.04.023. Epub 2013 May 3.


Young men from poorer backgrounds are associated with high road traffic collision levels. However, solving this problem has proven very difficult. Hence this paper summarises the findings of a UK government funded two-year trial of a cross-discipline intervention to reduce aggressive driving amongst this group. The intervention reported on here departed from traditional approaches such as fear appeals, stand-alone educational approaches, or punitive measures. Instead, the discipline of social marketing was used to provide overarching direction and structure for the trial, with a key focus on motivation and engagement. The project rested on a strong education and training platform and included a bespoke coaching programme, incentives, and an in-vehicle measurement and feedback device. The project had three development phases leading to the final trial. First, a literature and case study review identified possible design strategies. Second, these strategies were explored using primary research in the form of a qualitative inquiry. Third, a pre-trial design phase sought to introduce key components of the intervention to the trial cohort, retaining some flexibility before committing to the final design. Young males with a history of challenging behaviour (e.g. criminal records, driving convictions) from an economically deprived area within a UK city were recruited. Of 42 recruits, 23 successfully completed the trial. Behaviour changes were measured pre-, during and post-trial through a combination of driver performance data measured by in-vehicle data recorders (IVDRs), assessments of driving undertaken by trained observers, and self-assessment surveys and interviews with trial participants. Results indicate a significant average improvement in driving skills amongst participants who completed the trial. Given the difficulty in engaging and changing behaviour of this specific group, this is regarded as a significant finding. In summary the study provides an indication of proof of concept for the intervention in improving driving skills. However the limited sample size and lack of control group mean that further work will be required to validate these findings. It is recommended that a feasibility study with higher cohort volumes is undertaken, before attempting a full scale trial.

Keywords: Road safety; Social marketing; Young male drivers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Aggression*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Social Marketing*
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult