Why road safety adverts may not work

Fear-inducing road safety advertisements showing horrific car crashes may be unlikely to reduce the likelihood of speeding, drink-driving or other risky driving for some road users according to research led by Rachel Carey.

In a review of 23 studies, funded by the Irish Road Safety Authority (RSA), the impact of various road safety strategies- including videos, pictures and facts related to the consequences of risky driving- on intentions to drive safely and on risky driving was limited. The strategies appeared to make viewers fearful but this was insufficient for some road users to motivate or encourage safer driving.

Rachel Carey, a PhD candidate from the National University of Ireland, Galway, who presented her research at the British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section annual conference in Cambridge, said:

"Road safety practitioners need to reconsider the role of threat-based appeals in road safety campaigns, particularly where they target male drivers and occur in the absence of other types of messages. The question, really, is who is resilient to these messages and what alternative types of safety interventions are likely to bring about a change in behaviour?"