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ACT road empathy project: Final report

ACT road empathy project

Swinburne University of Technology has passed along to us a final report of a project it carried out for the ACT government, entitled Road Empathy | Understanding and Evaluating Campaigns for Behaviour Change in Young Drivers and Vulnerable Road Users.

Funding for the project was provided by the 2019 ACT Road Safety Fund Grants Program. The project was headed up by Associate Professor Nicki Wragg and Professor Tom Johnstone, with investigation and assistance from Dr Shivani Tyagi, Anthony Elliott, and Dr Fanny Suhendra.

The project was put together to obtain ideas, and produce campaigns, to new drivers and motorcyclists stay, and be, safe.

The years between 18 and 25 are critical, as many young people transition from being vulnerable road users (VRUs) – pedestrians or cyclists – to drivers or motorcyclists. While this demographic will continue to be VRUs, they learn new behaviours and form new perceptions about VRUs as they commence driving. This study examines the perceptions and opinions of 18–25-year-olds in relation to road safety from the perspective of being both a driver and VRU.

There were two components to the research. Firstly, …” to gain deep insights into the perceptions of the 18–25-year-old demographic regarding visual materials and messages in behaviour change campaigns developed to motivate road safety amongst young drivers and vulnerable road users. This was undertaken through a literature review, and then running user-centered design (UCD) workshops. Eye-tracking on imagery was used, and designers sat in on the group discussion, and also were briefed by the research team, to help conceive new campaigns.

Guidance to the designers was that the campaign must include photographic imagery with concise messaging, and:

  • the messaging must include examples of Positive Reason, Negative Reason, Positive Enforcement and Negative Enforcement
  • the messaging appeals must be relatable to the four different road user types – driver, motorcyclist, cyclist and pedestrian
  • some of the final campaign images should be able to be delivered in motion-based contexts (e.g. digital posters, social media).

In stage 2 of the research, campaigns informed by the findings from the discussions and workshops were tested on the participants, who rated the effectiveness of the imagery and messages.

Download the report

Click the link below to download a copy of Road Empathy | Understanding and Evaluating Campaigns for Behaviour Change in Young Drivers and Vulnerable Road Users – Stage 2 Final Report. Included are a deeper dive into the research methods (including the necessary pivots brought on by the COVID pandemic), the campaign design briefs and resulting designs, heatmap and eye tracking results, insights from the group discussions, conclusions, ideas for future research, and more.


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