Wealden District has one of the worst records in the South East for the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads. One group of motorists at particular risk are young male drivers aged 17 to 19 years old.
To combat this problem the Safer Wealden Partnership has taken a detailed look at the issue. This included analysing the statistics, looking at recent research on the subject, holding focus groups with young male drivers and conducting a survey with the target group. They are now taking a social marketing approach to find a long-term solution.
It was discovered that traditional road safety campaigns which highlight the dangers of having a crash are unlikely to have any long-term effects on the driving behaviours of this group. So it is launching a new campaign with a new approach on 30 October.
Dr Jeremy Leach, Public Health Manager at Wealden District Council, who conducted the research with the University of Brighton, said:
“All the evidence points to the fact that focussing on the social inconvenience of losing the use of your car and maybe licence is likely to have a much longer-lasting effect on the behaviour of this group of motorists than the more normal messages we all are used to seeing - that poor driving and the inappropriate use of speed causes serious crashes. The branding of this campaign has been chosen carefully, tested and is designed to make young drivers think and feel uneasy.”
Mark Matthews, Wealden Borough Commander for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and Chair of the Safer Wealden Roads Group, said:
“The campaign has been branded ‘We’re Keeping an Eye on You’. It will include posters targeting young male drivers, which will be displayed at all the community colleges and schools in the district, as well as fast-food outlets, late night fuel stations and other places where this group of road users are likely to frequent.
“In addition there will be targeted enforcement campaigns by Sussex Police; promotion of ‘Operation Crackdown’ (which targets anti-social driving); and a range of other activity, including letters being sent to both the Secretaries of State at the Department for Transport and the Department of Health.”
Councillor Claire Dowling, Chairman of the Safer Wealden Partnership and Portfolio Holder for Wealden District Council, said:
“The number of people killed or seriously injured on Wealden’s roads remains a serious concern and the time to look at different solutions to this vitally important problem is now. We will be watching and evaluating this approach carefully, but are hopeful that the messages will be heeded by this group of road users.”
Chief Inspector Dick Coates, District Commander with Sussex Police for Wealden, said:
“This is an exciting time for road safety in Wealden; we are trialling a new approach, which if effective could see a reduced number of young drivers being involved in serious road crashes. If it is shown to be effective it could be rolled out across a much wider area, even nationally. I am sure every parent dreads a knock on the door late at night from one of my officers to impart bad news about a loved one.”
The campaign will be launched at Uckfield Fire Station on Tuesday 30 October at 12.15pm.