Driver behaviour is a complex mix of psychological and cultural effects and requires new social marketing approaches, researchers say.
A recent road safety workshop organised by the RMIT Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture, revisited the social marketing strategies to tackle driving problems.
The workshop featured presentations by Professor Alan Tapp, Professor of Marketing at the Bristol Social Marketing Centre, Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Director at Social Marketing at Griffith University, and Professor Linda Brennan of RMIT’s School of Media and Communication.
Representatives from Victoria Police, TAC, Australia Post, DrinkWise Australia, GFK Australia, the Shannon Company, Department of Health, Clemenger BBDO and the Victorian Workcover Authority were among the 40 participants.
Professor Tapp said the workshop was much-needed in steering social marketing initiatives that target driving safety into more social and humanistic directions.
“Most road safety intervention work aim to educate and inducing fear,” he said.
“However, these approaches have quite severe limitations, especially for young drivers.
“We need to consider a lot of factors, including psychological and cultural effects on how we drive.”
Professor Rundle-Thiele stressed the complexity of the agents at play and how they work together.
“It is important to understand the psychological effects like optimism bias, illusion of control, skill-risk optimism, perception deficiencies, automaticity,” she said.
“At the same time, other cultural factors add to the layers of driving behaviour: culturally accepted norms, how they create false consensus, spirals of silence, contagious behaviour and so on.”
Professor Brennan was delighted that the joint effort was successful and informative.
“It is great to have some of the best experts presenting in this workshop,” she said.
“Professor Tapp and Professor Rundle-Thiele are well-published in the area.
“It is important to re-evaluate and find out why our road safety approaches fall catastrophically short of what’s needed.”
The workshop attracted 40 participants from academia and industry, including Victoria Police, TAC, Australia Post, DrinkWise Australia, GFK Australia, the Shannon Company, Department of Health, Clemenger BBDO and Victorian Workcover Authority.