Pre-driver Theatre & Workshop Education Research (PdTWER)

About this project

Project Background

Newly qualified young drivers are at a high-risk of death or serious injury within the first year of passing their driving test. Pre-driver education is currently delivered throughout the UK, which seeks to reduce the risks experienced by young and novice drivers. This research was conducted in response to interest from deliverers and the wider road safety community in the UK in understanding how best to deliver interventions that contribute towards safer driving amongst younger drivers.

Project Purpose

The purpose of this research was to find out the best way to use pre-driver theatre and workshop education to support young and novice driver safety.

Project aim and approach

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the content and format of pre-driver theatre and workshop interventions can help pre-drivers to develop effective strategies for coping with road related risk.

The project worked with several Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in the UK over a 3.5 year period to investigate and test the effectiveness of different approaches and content for pre-driver education.

The research compared, typically testimonial based interventions, against research based alternatives, to determine the most effective way to proceed with delivering theatre and workshop interventions to improve young driver safety.

The study has been delivered using robust study designs, including a cluster randomised controlled trial. The research was designed and evaluated by Dr Elizabeth Box, Research Director, RAC Foundation & Doctoral Researcher, Cranfield University. Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service also supported the delivery of the trial.

Project Timescales

The project started in September 2019 and took place across a 3.5 year period, concluding in March 2023. Piloting and trial work took place between June 2021 and March 2022.

Project partners & funding

The RAC Foundation, National Fire Chiefs Council, Kent FRS and Road Safety GB jointly funded the research work conducted across the 3.5 year study period.

The ground level delivery of the piloting and trial work was supported by the Department for Transport (£100,000) and The Road Safety Trust (£28,000).

Trial registry

The trial was registered with the ISRCTN. Trial no: ISRCTN71350920

Latest project updates

December 2023

The Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards ceremony took place at The Savoy on Tuesday 12th December 2023. Dr Elizabeth Box and other funders and partners involved in the delivery of the DriveFit Intervention were delighted to receive an award in recognition of the achievements of the Pre-driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research (PdTWER) project


November 2023

Practical guidance emerging from the Pre-driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research (PdTWER) has been published in a new report ‘Empowering young drivers with road safety education‘.

The report argues 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. Dr Box argues that road safety interventions should be based on research and behavioural theory rather than intuition and personal knowledge. The press release that accompanied the release of the report can be found here.

October 2023

The DriveFit film and workshop aimed at pre-driving-age young people designed by Dr Elizabeth Box, Research Director at the RAC Foundation, has won a prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award.

The panel of judges “were especially impressed by the depth of research and evaluation and the involvement of partners in the pre-Driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research project”. The press release with full details of this announcement can be found here.

July 2023

The anonymised dataset collated for the PdTWER project is now available on the Cranfield University’s institutional data repository, CORD, which preserves data for at least 10 years after project completion. The data can be viewed and accessed here.

June 2023

DriveFit intervention resources are now available free of charge to the road safety community for use with 16-18-year-old pre-drivers via Road Safety GB.

The resources can be found at and the news item covering the sharing of these resources at

The development, trialing and provision of these resources has been made possible by funding provided by the RAC Foundation, Road Safety GB, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Kent Fire and Rescue Service, The Road Safety Trust and the Department for Transport (DfT). Delivery support has been provided by Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service.

To support the roll-out and further development of the DriveFit intervention a DriveFit Intervention Delivery Group on LinkedIn has been set-up to support practitioners to come together to ask questions about the delivery of the intervention and to share their experiences of delivering the materials in schools and colleges.

March 2023

The cluster Randomised Controlled Trial (cRCT) evaluation of the DriveFit programme has now been published OpenAccess by Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour:

Box, E., Dorn, L. (2023). A cluster randomised controlled trial (cRCT) evaluation of a pre-driver education intervention using the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 94, p.379-397

The National Fire Chiefs Council has also pledged, in response to the research conducted, to develop new programmes that are fit for the future which use the most up to date theories and techniques. Dan Quin, the NFCC’s new road safety lead talks about the impact that the research will have on education provision in the March episode of the RSBG Talk Podcast (09:50)

November 2022

National Road Safety Conference 2022

The key findings of the PdTWER project were presented at Road Safety GB’s National Road Safety Conference 2022 in Harrogate on 9th November.

Delegates were encouraged to cease the delivery of negatively charged emotional interventions and to only deliver interventions which can deliver at least medium-term effects. The importance of recognising the role and relative impact of educational interventions was emphasised and delegates were encouraged to focus on influencing attitudes and perceived risks, where there seemed to be the greatest potential to demonstrate intervention effects.

A further summary of the key points from the talk is available on the Road Safety GB website.

First Look manuscript available

A pre-print (not yet peer reviewed) manuscript titled ‘A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial (cRCT) Evaluation of a Pre-Driver Education Intervention Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour‘ is now available under First Look on SSRN.

October 2022

PdTWER Principal Investigator Elizabeth Box spoke at the Road Safety Education and Training session at the FERSI Annual Conference, The Hague, in the Netherlands on 6th October.

Elizabeth outlined the findings of the DriveFit cRCT trial. An extended conference abstract for the talk provided titled ‘A cluster Randomised Controlled Trial (cRCT) evaluation of the DriveFit pre-driver education programme using the Theory of Planned Behaviour’ can be viewed here. For details of the other presentations provided at the conference please see Extended summaries – Fersi.

September 2022

The Pre-driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research (PdTWER) was Highly Commended in the CIHT Road Safety Award category at the CIHT Annual Awards Ceremony on 7th September 2022. The full results for the CIHT Road Safety Award are as follows:

  • Scottish Borders Council – 20mph Default in Scottish Borders – Winner
  • Cranfield University – Pre-Driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research – Highly Commended
  • FORS – FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) – Commended
  • Main Roads Western Australia – Innovative Information Technology in Road Safety – Commended
  • Transport for London – Intelligent Speed Assistance on London’s bus fleet – Commended

Full details can be found at Best in class transportation projects receive national acclaim | CIHT

August 2022

PdTWER Principal Investigator Elizabeth Box spoke at the 7th International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology (ICTTP) in Gothenburg, Sweden, about the effectiveness of pre-driver education and the use of Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs) within interventions. The full programme of presentations can be viewed at ICTTP 7 – 7TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORT PSYCHOLOGY (ICTTP).

June 2022

A write-up of the Young Driver Focus Conference 2022 is now available, which includes a summary of the presentation provided on this project.

The Pre-Driver Theatre and Workshop Education Research programme has been shortlisted for the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) Road Safety Award. Winners will be announced at the CIHT Annual Award Ceremony on 7th September 2022.

May 2022

Key findings from the PdTWER trial were presented by Elizabeth Box at the Young Driver Focus Conference, Pall Mall, London on Wed 25th May. These results show that the positively framed DriveFit intervention (online film and workshop) had a longer lasting effect on improving and maintaining road safety attitudes and perceived risk, than the more traditional negatively framed testimonial intervention, Safe Drive Stay Alive Surrey (online film), which was also rated as significantly more worrying, frightening and shocking than the DriveFit intervention. Both interventions, immediately after they were completed, had small, beneficial impacts of various risk measures when compared to the control condition.

Delegates were encouraged to adjust their pre-driver educational provisions to focus on delivering positively framed interventions which helped provide young people with strategies for managing their risk behaviours. Given that students started out with generally road safety supportive attitudes, this study has shown the value of educational approaches improving (and maintaining in the case of DriveFit) road safety supportive attitudes, but these effects are small, and depending on the intervention, can be short lived. Delegates were therefore encouraged to consider how much time, effort and resource they expend on road safety educational approaches, given that benefits are small, even for interventions designed in relation to the best behavioural science.

Further information about the results of this study will be published over the remainder of 2022.

March 2022

Data collection closes for all participating schools. Details of the newly developed DriveFit film and early face validity results shared at the National Road Safety Performances Forum and during the NFCC Road Safety Webinar.

January 2022

Final data collection with participating schools/colleges in Devon and Surrey commences.

December 2021

Intervention delivery ends.

November 2021

Intervention roll out begins across 30 participating schools/colleges in Devon and Surrey. Immediate post intervention surveys have been collected. The trial has been registered with the ISRCTN Trial no: ISRCTN71350920

October 2021

Participating schools/colleges in Devon are assigned to an intervention or control condition. Two Kent schools/colleges are taking part in the piloting of the newly designed intervention (film & workshop)

September 2021

School/college recruitment for the trial has closed, and participating schools/colleges have been provided a baseline survey for their students to complete. Workshop development is also underway.

August 2021

Recording of a new pre-driver film for testing as part of the PdTWER programme is taking place, at Kent FRS Head Quarters.

July 2021

Study trial recruitment is getting underway in schools/colleges supported by Surrey FRS and Devon & Somerset FRS. Message testing with the target audience is also taking place, supported by Kent FRS.

June 2021 

Elizabeth Box talks about levelling up Road Safety education in an article for the recently published Young Driver Focus 21 report:

May 2021

Elizabeth Box talks to Brake, the Road Safety Charity about young driver safety as part of their Time to Zero In podcast series.


December 2020

An editorial on the Safety of Young Drivers authored by Ian Greenwood (ITS, University of Leeds), Elizabeth Box (RAC Foundation), Dr Shaun Helman (TRL) and Dr Sarah Jones (Cardiff University) has been published by the BMJ.

November 2020

Elizabeth Box provides an outline of the three year Pre-driver Theatre & Workshop Education Research (PdTWER) Programme and interim project findings during her Keynote presentation at the Road Safety GB Festival of Road Safety 2020.

September 2020

Elizabeth Box provides oral evidence to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry on Young and Novice Drivers

For more information

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Updated: 10 Oct 2022