Big challenges remain in ensuring universal, high-standard evaluation of behaviour change interventions aimed at making people safer on the roads.
Many practitioners feel that they lack a professional identity, possibly caused by the absence of a professional qualification, “with participants suggesting that it can feel daunting to have one’s work judged; this in turn means that only positive evaluation results are published.”
Financial constraints also limit the amount of evaluation being carried out.
As part of this latest research, practitioners were asked to complete a survey and three focus groups were held with participants including a mix of road safety officers, road safety managers, Fire and Rescue Services officers, and representatives from Highways England and Transport Scotland.
The research found that five groups emerged from the analysis with each having clear characteristics. The groups were:
- Absolute beginners – those who used no behaviour change theories in intervention design, and
evaluated none of their schemes
- Believe in Yourself – those who used behaviour change theories for less than 50% of their interventions
and evaluated less than 50% of them
- A Little Knowledge – those who used behaviour change theories for less than 50% of their interventions
but evaluated more than 50% of them
- Measure Twice, Cut Once – those who used behaviour change theories for more than 50% of their
interventions but evaluated less than 50% of them
- Walking the Talk (Mostly) – those whose used behaviour change theories for more than 50% and evaluated
more than 50% of their interventions
Tanya Fosdick said:
“What struck me was the desire for a professional identity, that comparisons were made with engineering and public health, with those comparisons giving those in road safety education a sense of inadequacy and feelings of not being taken seriously.
“Many of the themes from the focus groups echoed those which emerged from the surveys. Limited qualifications can lead to a lack of professional identity in a diverse sector.
“In the survey, it was found that not all respondents were evaluating their interventions, a finding that was explained in the focus groups, with participants suggesting that it can feel daunting to have one’s work judged; this in turn means that only positive evaluation results are published.
“There was also an acknowledgement that good-quality evaluations can be expensive, and that this expense can lead to compromises in approach.”