Macabre-icons try to scare youth out of texting and driving

Posted by Tom Megginson | 23-08-2012 19:14 | Category: Road safety


Once again, a public safety campaign tries to scare people out of a dangerous behaviour. And once again, it probably won’t succeed.

Brake is a victim-centric road safety charity in the UK. They make the same mistake similar social marketers, like MADD, do when trying to communicate with dangerous drivers. They seem to assume that if the driver only knew that his or her actions could hurt or kill them, or someone else, then they would stop doing it.

Unfortunately, human behaviour is far more complicated than that. People do things they know they aren’t supposed to because they really think it’s no big deal. They think that the dangers are exaggerated, and they have an unrealistic perception of their own abilities. And campaigns like this are either ignored as not applying to them, or laughed off as mere “nannyism”.

[More after the break]



The problem, as I have outlined in many other posts, is that people simply don’t want to be told that they are bad. It makes them defensive, and defensive people do not listen. It’s been proven by research, but it is also intuitively evident to anyone who has tried to persuade a “wrongdoer” in person.

Especially when you call them a potential child killer:


The answer? Be positive. Normalize the positive behaviour by celebrating those who do not transgress. The now-legendary “Embrace Life” video by Sussex Safer Roads Partnership is an excellent example of the technique.

It’s a reminder of all the good that the simple action of wearing a seatbelt can do. Will it stop everyone from ignoring their seatbelts? No. Social marketing cannot change everyone. But as a moving reminder to an audience (young dads) that they are no longer simply living for themselves, it is a definite win.

Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Brake - the road safety charity
Blue Hive, London, UK
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