A study on road safety and driver attitudes in Vietnam has uncovered opportunities for changing unsafe behaviour through social marketing.
The study was conducted by the RMIT Vietnam University social marketing research group in conjunction with the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF).
The researchers recruited 74 motorcylist volunteers to form focus groups and discuss what makes a good driver as well as what influences their driving behaviour.
Social marketing is an approach that uses commercial marketing principles to influence behaviour for the benefit of individuals or a community.
The approach has the potential to "sell" safe road traffic behaviours, in the hope of cutting the significant number of road-related injuries and deaths in Vietnam.
The opportunity for social marketing to change unsafe behaviour among road users was identified through an analysis of the motorcyclist focus groups' responses on how decisions about road safety are made.
RMIT Vietnam University Professional Communications Lecturer, Duong Trong Hue, said the results showed participants did not see driving and road safety as a serious problem.
"Most participants concluded it was the responsibility of drivers to drive safely to protect the lives of others, which was especially important for people taking family members as passengers on their motorbikes," Mr Hue said.
"The majority of participants believe good motorcycle drivers are focused, aware of other drivers, have their emotions in control and they follow the road rules.
"But there is a widely held belief that if a person obeyed the road rules and others didn't, then the person obeying the rules was considered foolish.
"The example given was if a person didn't run a red light when it had just changed then they would be blamed for blocking the road."
Study findings showed participants believe unsafe behaviour includes turning without indicating, sudden braking, overloading motorcycles with too many passengers or goods, driving abreast and passing others without alerting them with a horn.
Mr Hue said the study revealed participants thought good road skills included knowledge of shortcuts and one-way streets, how to safely drive on the pavement in traffic jams and knowledge of police spots.
"The study has provided us with an understanding into the existing attitudes and behaviour towards road safety in Vietnam and it will help AIPF and related agencies to identify the messages for an effective road safety social marketing campaign," Mr Hue said.
As the next stage of the project, the research group is running a survey on social norms and speeding behaviour of young adult motorcyclists in Ho Chi Minh City.
The RMIT Vietnam University social marketing research group includes academic staff Lukas Parker, Linda Brennan, Duong Trong Hue and Dang Nguyen.
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