Education in road safety: are we getting it right?08 Sep 2010

If there is one thing most of us believe in, it is the benefits of education, not least when it comes to road safety.

But one man thinks that trust might be misplaced. Professor Frank McKenna says there is a big lack of evaluation of road safety education and training initiatives.

In a report commissioned by the RAC Foundation Professor McKenna of the University of Reading says that while road safety education schemes are plausible, uncontroversial and address matters of public concern: “Educational interventions are often designed in the absence of theory or any formal body of evidence. In some circumstances they may inadvertently increase exposure to risk.”

Looking at public health education more broadly McKenna says that while educational campaigns aimed at tackling smoking, drinking, drug abuse and over-eating inform people about the dangers of these activities, there is little evidence to say they alone actually change behaviour. He suggests what education might do is create an environment where compulsion – such as the smoking ban – becomes more acceptable amongst the public.