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Public Attitudes to Road User Safety and their Effect on Travel Behaviour A Study from the United Kingdom Dr Charles Musselwhite, Dr Erel Avineri and Dr.

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Presentation on theme: "Public Attitudes to Road User Safety and their Effect on Travel Behaviour A Study from the United Kingdom Dr Charles Musselwhite, Dr Erel Avineri and Dr."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Attitudes to Road User Safety and their Effect on Travel Behaviour A Study from the United Kingdom Dr Charles Musselwhite, Dr Erel Avineri and Dr Yusak Susilo Centre for Transport & Society, Dept of Planning & Architecture, UWE, Bristol

2 Policy, practice, research gap Policy and practice gap: Road user safety and travel behaviour. –Transport for London advert –What could be worse than losing your licence, your independence, freedom, adulthood, status –(Gosh you might have to use the bus or cycle! Imagine!!) –Yet they want people out of their cars e.g. “Walking is a great way to get around London: –It's quick and reliable –It's good for your health –It makes a greener planet –It's good for London's economy” Also a research gap in the area. Usually Road User Safety OR travel behaviour

3 Research Objectives Department for Transport, UK, sponsored project. Wider aims of project:- To explore public understanding, attitudes, experiences towards road safety, getting beneath ‘top of mind’ responses, in the wider context of attitudes, identity, motivations, values, lifestyles, life-stages and behaviour to develop a framework to improve understanding For this presentation, seeking to improve understanding of: The role of psychological factors in modal choice and risk taking behaviour How far environmental awareness or decision making are taking into account in decisions about travel behaviour and risk acceptance Links between how individuals might conceptualise road user risk and safety and how it affects their modal choice. 3

4 Methodology (1) 240 participants were recruited in groups of ten participants, of which 228 eventually took part. Four locations in the UK: London, Bradford, Glasgow and North-West Wales. The areas were chosen to reflect a range of socio-economic variables and well as a mix of urban and rural environments. Within each area an attempt was made to recruit 60 participants into one of six groups, with ten participants in each group, selected in response to include different road user groups, life-stages and attitudes to risk. 4

5 Methodology (2) Within each group, participants were also recruited to comprise a mix of car drivers, motorcycle riders, cyclists and non drivers In each of the locations, groups were comprised as follows: –Group 1: Young male drivers –Group 2: Those who drive for work aged 21-54 –Group 3: Those with children under the age of 16 –Group 4: Older people (55+) –Group 5: Younger working people with no children yet –Group 6: Individuals with different attitudes to risk. Assigned based on a screening questionnaire (Musselwhite, 2006) continuous risk takers (Bradford) unintentional risk takers (North-West Wales) reactive risk takers (London) calculated risk takers (Glasgow) 5

6 Methodology (3) Participants were reconvened in three different workshops:- Wave 1:explored risk taking on the road in the context of wider risk taking and norm guiding behaviours. Wave 2:explored the relationship between different road user groups, including car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Wave 3:- Explored participants’ views on potential road safety interventions, in terms of perceived effectiveness and fairness 6

7 Findings IdentityNorms CompetitionEnvironmental awareness Modal choice and risk taking behaviour

8 Multiple identities –Car driver, resident, pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, horse rider But car driving dominates –Even though wear these multiple hats, identity of a driver often dominates –Common for attitudes can compete with different hat on, “I hate speeding outside of my house” (male, Bradford) And later:- “I admit to speeding in residential areas when I think it’s safe to do so yes” (male, Bradford) –Implication: Rights of the driver first Vulnerable identities –Look after them to extent but they should look after themselves –Many drivers who do not cycle or walk believe, “They have a choice to accept that risk. You cycle you accept it’s dangerous” (male, Glasgow) –Many cyclists and pedestrians own their vulnerability and feel threatened: Can submit to this (wear reflective clothing, avoid really dangerous situations) or attack (group together, advocate for more equal provision or that their needs should come first) Identity (1)

9 “M: I’m probably an aggressive driver, yeah. I am. My mates would say so. I don’t think I’m dangerous, but I take risks yeah. R: why? M: I don’t know really. I just do you know, It’s me. R: Are you a risky person would you say? M: not really. I think you do just drive like that don’t you. You know at my age. You know. I think you’d look silly driving slow and that like an old dodderer when you’re my age.” 9 Risky driving in a “social context” Largely a young male preserve (As seen in the accident statistics) M: “It’s fun isn’t it. To floor the accelerator. You get a buzz. Q: Do older people do that? M: No way! Q: Why not? M: Er I suppose they’ve done it. Haven’t they. It’s no longer a thrill M: And they don’t have the reactions to do it, as you do when you’re young Identity (2)

10 Varies based on passenger and relationship to passenger “Well when you first get a boyfriend you’re like trying to drive dead like quite sensibly, and then as you get to know each other you like show off a bit.....Like drive like a boy as well.....Yes, with my best friend I just drive like I normally would and I’d sort of know where to drive fast and where to drive slow and things. Friends I'm not so close with I just drive like, I don’t know, a bit more carefully really, because I don’t know them that well, sort of like judge me for my driving. Because people do judge you from your driving, because it’s like responsibility isn’t it?” (Female, North-West Wales) “It depends on what type of passenger it is, right, if it’s your mum, I’m driving like a granddad, when it’s my mum or if it’s a child in the back or whatever, you drive safely, no matter what. Whereas, if it’s your friend, I’m trying to say, you might try and show off, you might just drive how you normally drive which is you might be crazy, you might be cool, but it depends on the passenger, that's what I think”. (London, Young Male) So people deliberately alter risky behaviour to say something about themselves. Identity (3)

11 Embedded in the culture of society –Ordinariness of the car –Linked to status, roles, being part of society “ It is the one thing that allows me to compete with youngsters. It is something I can probably still do as well as when I was a young man. I feel able to be part of society” (Older male, Bradford) Norms –People similar to me own a car –People similar to me drive like I do “I’ve got a white van, so it’s like that’s the rule, isn't it?” (Male, Bradford) Norms

12 Space is competitively fought for, rather than shared Legitimacy of use of space –Hierarchy based on norms and context In urban areas pedestrians higher legitimacy than in rural areas Tractors and horse riders higher legitimacy in rural areas. In group v out group –People like self behave better than people unlike self –People like self more legitimate to use road –“it’s not fair that old people who ain’t working go out at rush hour clogging up the road for us workers” Competition

13 Very few examples of driving in an environmentally friendly style “I’ve slowed down. By 10mph or so on average. So quite substantial. Yep in part that’s the environment and what have you. I am concerned. But it’s also part and probably a bigger part due to trying to save cost of fuel” (male, London) Very few people change mode due to being environmentally aware, other factors predominate. “I do take the environment into consideration. I do. But it has little effect on my driving, as I need to drive” (female, Bradford) “Other factors come first, can I afford public transport, am I safe on a bike, then I might consider the environment” (female, North West Wales) Environmental awareness

14 Conclusions Everyone for themselves on the road. –Competitive v shared space –Legitimacy of road user –Ingroup vs outgroup Identity and impression management strong on modal choice and risk taking –How to influence Norms on road very strong –Can we change norms? –Embedded in society (even in campaigns) Environmental awareness has little effect on driver behaviour or modal choice for vast majority –Other factors like cost explicitly have more influence

15 Implications Re-engineer social space of transport –Less competition. –Engineering out dominance of the car: e.g. shared space, naked streets –Education for all road users together, not in isolation e.g. Drivers and cyclists Competing attitudes –Reveal the cognitive dissonance or can people live with them? Norms –Use norms of behaviour to change culture Focus on challenging embedded culture –Car driving not dominant mode role of TV, films, drama, school education, websites Joined up consistent thinking –Link modal choice and road user safety –Learn about environmental issues during driving test


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