Empowering young drivers with road safety education

Organisation: RAC Foundation (Dr Elizabeth Box)

Date of Publication: November 2023

Uploaded to Knowledge Centre: 29 November 2023

This paper comprises practical guidance emerging from the Pre-driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research (PDTWER) project. It concludes that using ‘shock and tell’ tactics to teach teenagers about the risks associated with driving does little to improve safety and may actually make things worse.

The author, Dr Elizabeth Box, argues that traditional attempts to use ‘threat’ and ‘fear’ appeals to young people to influence their behaviour when they start to drive can be counterproductive, particularly amongst young men. Such approaches can prompt defensive or even hostile reactions. Members of a young audience are also more likely to experience optimism bias about their own capabilities and the scale of their risk exposure.

Rather than talk at pre-drivers about the risks they face a more interactive approach could be better, one where the facts about road safety are shared and young participants are encouraged to come to their own conclusions about what good driving behaviour looks like.

In the report, Dr Box argues that road safety interventions should be based on research evidence and behavioural theory rather than intuition and personal knowledge.

Access the paper via the RAC Foundation website: