Road safety campaigns: learnings from around the world

Road safety campaigns: learnings from around the world

From tackling drink-driving, to prompting seatbelt use – campaigns have long been key to striving for safer roads. We looked into some examples of successful road safety campaigns from three of the world’s best performing countries to find out how their approaches differ from the UKs.

Sweden: ‘The Speed Camera Lottery’

Road Speed SignSource: The Fun Theory

The Speed Camera Lottery was a campaign which saw significant results when attempting to reduce the driving speeds.

Volkswagen launched a competition called the The Fun Theory1, which challenged participants to submit ideas which would positively change people’s driving behaviour by making it fun. The winning entry – The Speed Camera Lottery – was developed to encourage people to obey the speed limit. The concept was simple: if a camera caught drivers speeding, their money would go into a pot. On the other hand, if a driver was recorded obeying the law by sticking to the speed limit, they would be entered into a lottery, with a chance of winning the money from the speeders.

The Swedish National Society for Road Safety made this idea a reality in Stockholm, Sweden. Over a 3 day period, 24,857 cars passed the speed camera. The results were significant:

  • Average speed before experiment: 32 km/h
  • Average speed during experiment: 25 km/h
  • Speed was reduced by 22%

Switzerland: ‘Slow Down, Take It Easy’

The approach Switzerland take when creating road safety campaigns is significantly different to that taken in the UK. This is mainly due to the fact that the country is split into various areas, called Cantons, which encompass a number of languages and different attitudes.

In order to better appeal to people within these different regions, road safety campaigning in Switzerland has to be carefully considered depending on location and target audience. For example, the German-speaking part of the country has different attitudes to the Italian or French-speaking part. The French region prefer to get ‘straight to the point’ with what’s being addressed, whereas this approach wouldn’t work in the German region.

Slow Down Car StickerSource: Rod Kommunikation

We spoke to Dieter Luethi, Director of Funds for Road Safety at FVS Traffic Security Fund, about an ongoing campaign that focuses on reducing speed. Named ‘Slow Down, Take It Easy’, the campaign has now been successfully running for over seven years.

“We believe that 20% of all fatalities are due to speed,” Luethi told us, “we need to make people aware that if they adapt their speed, they may save lives – especially their own.”

One part of the campaign that stands out is the tone of voice. Luethi highlighted that a light-hearted approach to the problem was appropriate for the target group being addressed “offering solutions and ideas.” The campaign features Franky the angel and his band, singing to speeding young drivers and motorcyclists, telling them to “slow down, take it easy”.

Luethi explained that road safety advertising works to change the attitudes of drivers, but not necessarily driver behaviour. “On the level of attitudes, people constantly hear and see the messages and thus are confronted with road safety on a daily basis”, says Luethi. He suggests that advertising does work, but not independently. The messaging has to work in conjunction with relevant changes or new laws and regulations.

Finland: ‘When you drive, drive’ & ‘Be brave’

With more than one in five road traffic fatalities in Finland involving alcohol2, and driver distraction becoming an increasingly crucial focal point in global road safety campaigns, we look into two Finnish campaigns attempting to tackle these issues.

We spoke to Pasi Anteroinen, Organisation Manager at Liikenneturva, the Finnish Road Safety Council, who told us a little more about these campaigns and the road safety issues Finland currently faces. Anteroinen indicates that, although “innovations that improve safety are on the way, we are still in a period of transformation”, and states that this is reason why “it’s very important to keep on battling drink driving, not using seatbelts and speeding.”

And, while advancements in vehicle and infrastructure technology are imminent and promise to make roads safer in coming years, Anteroinen indicates that “human behaviour is still key in road safety work,” and points out that “driver distraction and inattention is a growing problem in road traffic.”

Anteroinen emphasises that the way in which road safety messages are conveyed, and the people through whom they are conveyed, are extremely important factors in the success of a campaign. As seatbelt use, or the lack of, is still a major factor in fatal traffic accidents in Finland, this is an ongoing area of campaigning amongst 15-24 year olds. In order to raise awareness on the topic within this age group, and to better connect with the target audience, Anteroinen tells us that Liikenneturva have recruited the help of some famous videobloggers.

It’s important to find messengers who the audience can relate to.

When You Drive, Drive

In a bid to tackle the growing, global issue of driver distraction, the Finnish Road Safety Council launched the emotionally charged campaign, ‘When you drive, drive’, in 2014. The campaign clearly acknowledges the fact that mobile phones are now an essential part of life, however pleads with the public to cast the ‘captivating’ device aside while driving. Rather than using shock tactics and images of gore, the adverts appeals to people emotions through positive connotations and messages.

According to Anteroinen, “the campaign was very successful,” but stresses that these “still need to be supported by traffic supervision by the police.”

The best way to support safe behaviour on the roads is through a combination of communication and supervision.

Be brave

Drink driving is an age old, ongoing issue which threatens road safety, not only in Finland, but around the world. However, according to a recent ESRA (European Survey of Road Users’ Safety Attitudes) report3, Finnish attitudes toward drink driving were the most negative in all of the 17 European countries.

stand up to drink drivingSource: Liikenneturva

In order to change attitudes towards drink driving, 'Be Safe' was launched in 2015. The campaign, aimed at 15 to 24 year olds, encourages young people to stand up to their friends who intend to drink drive. Similar to a recent campaign in the UK, Be Safe focused on camaraderie as an effective way of reducing road traffic accidents. Anteroinen tells us that ”early results are very positive as the campaign message is highly remembered and accepted among the target group.”

The Bigger Picture

Although road safety campaigns remain an effective way of conveying messages to motorists, a number of other elements also need to be in place if these are to have their desired effect on road safety. Without accompanying legislation, education and subsequent supervision, the potentially huge benefits of road safety campaigns could be watered down and left behind.

However, it ultimately comes down to each of us to ensure we’re doing our part to improve road safety. Our mission is to change driver behaviours and make Britain’s roads safer. Many have already made the Brake Pledge to drive safer which we strongly support – will you?

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Additional Sources

[3]ESRA survey 2015 -

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