Do emotive road safety videos work?

Police in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been inviting motorists stopped for traffic offences to watch graphic road safety videos that address the violation in question. Specially trained police officers sit in and explain the content. The campaign videos are designed to evoke emotion and jolt the viewer. The idea is for viewers to question their thinking and attitudes, and to change their conduct on the road.

But do the videos work? In a specially commissioned study Egon Stephan, Professor of diagnosis and intervention in psychology at Cologne University‟s Human Sciences Faculty, evaluated the use of emotive road safety videos by police and their effects on 250 respondents. His final report, published at the end of 2010, includes the following core statements:

 Graphic road safety videos are used worldwide to promote road safety.

 Shock road safety videos realistically depict the consequences of bad driving practices.

 Of the road users taking part in the survey, around 94 per cent had a high regard for the use of such films.

 Strikingly, 90 per cent of drivers who were sanctioned rated the videos positively.

 Of the motorists who were stopped, 73 per cent claimed the graphic videos had an effect on them.

 Videos that employ shock tactics have an effect where viewing is voluntarily and a violation is actually followed by a sanction.

During a separate control study, 50 people were tested for the emotional effects of the graphic videos (pulse frequency and skin conductivity). Those individuals had not been stopped or sanctioned for traffic violations. The following results were observed:

 Physical and emotional signs could not be noted to the same extent during roadside vehicle checks, possibly owing to weather conditions.

 The impact of the road safety videos is stronger on females than on males.

 The use of graphic road safety videos appears to have a positive impact on the attitude of those who usually flout seatbelt laws.

 It makes no difference whether video goggles or a laptop computer is used for presentation.

 Road safety attitudes of drivers vary little between city and country

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About dbda
dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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