‘Who’s driving you?’ Development and an evaluation of an impulse control and road safety intervention


Amount awarded


Uploaded to Knowledge Centre
27 October 2021

This project led to the development of an effective and novel intervention, ‘Who’s driving you?’, which is designed to improve the intention to make better decisions in young people by helping them plan how to control themselves in difficult situations.

Who’s driving you? was developed using theoretical literature on road safety and child development and the well-known and frequently used Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) framework.

Evaluation of the pilot scheme showed intention changed pre and post intervention. Who’s driving you? was also positively received by key stakeholders including teachers, pupils and facilitators.

Some minor adjustments were made ahead of a fully powered random controlled trial evaluation across multiple schools and students aged 14 to 18 years, and with a long-term follow up.

More detail
Road traffic accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury in adolescents and young adults. The reasons for adolescents’ increased vulnerability on the road are complicated, but many of the collisions involving young people occur because they make risky decisions based on poor impulse control.

While educating young people about the consequences of these risky behaviours may positively impact future decision-making processes, education about consequences alone is not sufficient. Giving young people the information they need to understand how their thoughts lead to their behaviours, and the tools to change or moderate those behaviours, may have a greater impact on the number of collisions.

To address risky driving, Who’s driving you? – an intervention framed around driving behaviours – was developed to improve and reduce impulsivity in young people.

Who’s driving you? was developed and delivered to three classes, and then subjected to a pilot evaluation to understand if it could help young people make better decisions, and determine its potential for wider roll out and implementation.

Developing the intervention
 The Behaviour Change Wheel framework was used to conceptualise the intervention in three steps:

1. Understand the behaviour
2. Identify intervention options
3. Identify content and model delivery

The focus of the project development was to identify appropriate behavioural change techniques (BCTs). Considering the time constraints (2 hours of class time), it was decided to select the most promising techniques that were embedded in Cognitive Behavioural (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment (ACT), and Insight and Cognitive based therapies.

The intervention designers identified 15 specific BCTs suitable for a class-room delivery environment including generating insights, problem solving, re-framing, social rewards, mindfulness and information about antecedents.

The evaluation was carried out in three phases by Ulster University following the delivery of the intervention to three schools in Northern Ireland.

In phase 1 (a questionnaire) there was a significant, positive change in intention to make better decisions by planning how to control oneself in difficult situations, which was the primary target of the intervention (as many of the young people were not old enough to drive). However, the results should be interpreted with caution due to lower than expected recruitment.

Phases 2 and 3 comprised focus group with young people and interviews with teachers and facilitators. From the qualitative data it was evident that Who’s driving you? was received very positively by all three groups – young people, teachers and facilitators.

Evidence suggested the intervention may not only benefit young people in their thought processes and impulsivity in relation to driving behaviours, but also potentially improve their decision-making abilities in general and enhance their life skills.

Several enhancements were suggested, including working in partnership with other organisations with an interest in road safety (e.g. the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service) and increasing the interactivity of the content to improve attention and engagement throughout.

Several key recommendations were made including minor adjustments to the intervention to increase interactivity and using tasks or additional videos to illustrate learning outcomes. It was also recommended that the intervention should use advances in digital technologies to poll participants during the session and monitor the impact of the intervention.

A fully powered evaluation was recommended on the second version of Who’s driving who?, comprising a randomised control trial with a control group which accounts for the clustering in schools and tests the findings in the full range of ages targeted (14 to 18 years), and with a longer follow up period.

For more information, including the full project report, visit the Road Safety Trust website: