“Message not received.” Seatbelts – the unseen problem (campaign)

Birmingham City Council

Amount awarded


Uploaded to Knowledge Centre
23 November 2022

In 2019, Birmingham City Council (BCC) identified that a particular area of Birmingham had disproportionately high road casualty figures.

An observational study identified that the rate of non-seatbelt use was not only a key contributor to high casualty figures, but that the rate of non-seatbelt use was far greater than anyone had envisaged. Whilst nationally, the rate of non-use of seatbelts was sitting at around 8% (DfT 2018), locally it was a 38% – five times higher than the national average.

Another key insight was that previous national seatbelt campaigns (considered instrumental in achieving one of the lowest road-casualty-rates in the world), had repeatedly failed to reach and engage people from these communities, resulting in a health-inequality that had remained hidden and unaddressed for many years.

This project, funded by The Road Safety Trust and delivered in partnership between Birmingham City Council and the behavioural science consultancy SoMo , tested the hypothesis that culturally-tailored and targeted messaging, co-designed with communities and using insights from behavioural science, could improve seatbelt use in Birmingham’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities and, in turn, reduce passenger casualty rates.

The campaign was co-designed with young people aged 16-24 years from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities and the messaging was tested for saliency, memorability and potential to change behaviour using randomised control trials.

With regards to future development and rollout of the project, researchers recommend that:

  • The campaign continues to feature male and female protagonists together with a range of cherished future life events/goals pertinent to this cohort
  • Further insight is targeted, specifically at disengaged young people to understand what aspirations could be used to signify ‘loss of future’ where milestones such as graduating from university may not feel realistic or desirable
  • The channels of communication need to be carefully considered and the campaign adapted to meet the needs of the target cohort
  • A light touch, behavioural insights and codesign methodology should be used to discover other scenarios that would trigger anticipated regret along with and the best platforms/ means to achieve widespread, reach and engagement
  • To optimise the effectiveness of final campaign, companies who have a track record in delivering online campaigns should be commissioned to co-produce the final roll-out
  • Analytics can be embedded in campaigns to measure reach, engagement, sharing and sentiment on social channels.
  • Stats-19 data can be used to monitor if passenger casualties among young people in East Birmingham decrease after campaign release.

They would also like to see the learning and approach used in this project used to tackle other challenges and develop the capabilities of those responsible for road safety and behaviour change.

Click on the link below to access the project video, evaluation report, case study and link to project website: