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Development of Messages to Address Young Drivers’ Risk Taking Behaviours

A two stage project has resulted in the production of material which could be used in a road safety awareness campaign. Research has shown that risk taking by young drivers contributes to their crash risk. If young drivers can be convinced risky driving behaviours are in fact risky, they could be expected to engage in such behaviours less often, leading to a decrease in their crashes. In Stage One of the project, factors that influence risk taking by young drivers were investigated, including situational, emotional, peer group, confidence and other factors, as well as risk taking models and relevant behaviour change theories. From this research, a set of message content and development principles was developed.
In Stage Two of the project, an advertising agency was guided to develop four sets of advertisements consisting of television, radio and print media mock-ups to address speeding and mobile phone risk taking behaviours, based on the message content and development principles. The mock-ups developed were assessed against 11 important components of the message content and development principles, including identifying and highlighting the costs of the risky behaviour; identifying the safer alternative behaviour; and acknowledging the benefits of the risky behaviour but showing they are outweighed by the costs. ARRB and the agency further refined the advertisements before focus group testing based on this assessment.
The sets of advertisements were focus group tested with 40 young drivers aged 17 to 25 (21 females, 19 males) in Canberra. Participants were asked about the advertising concepts in terms of their understanding, realism, components liked and disliked, recommended improvements/changes, whether the advertisement would make participants consider changing or actually change behaviour and overall favourite advertisements. The advertisements were then further improved based on these results. Based on responses received from focus group participants, one speeding advertisement for radio, and one mobile phone advertisement for television, showed promise for final development and release.


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