Just this week French car maker Peugeot was hauled over the coals by the Advertising Standards Board. What was their offence? Could it be scantily clad ladies, perhaps some questionable claims about fuel efficiency or maybe it was some underestimation on the car price? Surprising as it may seem, their only offence was a hand being waved outside the vehicle in their recent advert for the 4008 SUV (pictured). Many will think this is a vast overreaction and many more will argue that Peugeots offence is nothing when compared with some of the more controversial adverts. While many of the arguments in this debate will be persuasive you cannot forget the main motivation behind the board’s ruling; vehicele laws motivating behavioural change.
Mixed in with the many and varied reasons behind lower road fatality rates is the theory of behavioural change. While it’s not the most expensive of all the factors (building better cars and roads obviously takes those prizes) it is the most difficult to manage and maintain. This is undoubtedly down to one major factor involved; trying to control people. In the past few decades major changes have taken place and some behaviours really have shifted. Below are some of the biggest campaigns and challenges;
Seatbelts: This are perhaps the most successful behavioural change to date. Only very few ignore the need to strap in these days. Usage rates are now between 95-98%.
Drink driving: This is perhaps the most socially disruptive of all the behavioural changes as it altered how we socialise like nothing before. While there are still thousands defying the law there has been a major shift in attitudes in the area with most now “strongly disagreeing” with dink driving. .
Speeding: With the advent of police radars and speed cameras this area is now quantifiable and the pressure on drivers to slow down has never been so intense.. While the figures can be difficult to assess it is still relatively clear that the number of fatalities due to speeding is down as illustrated here.
Mobile phone usage: This area illustrates just how difficult a job it can be to change behaviours. Just as drivers change their behaviours a new distraction comes along and demands even more persuasive power. Figures in this area are few and far between but in the coming years its expected that policies, penalties and campaigning will be stepped up.
Behavioural change is at the very centre of all safe driving campaigns. While some may scoff at the seemingly petty actions of the Advertising Standards Board in the Peugeot case, it must be noted that they are acting under the behavioural change banner. While it is difficult to quantify how many lives have been saved as a result of the behavioural changes noted above it is beyond doubt that they have indeed saved lives.