Drinkaware CEO Comments Blog

6 takeaways from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Annual Conference 2022 

Attending the RSA’s Annual Conference, I was struck by several points and interventions put forward that are relevant to our work at Drinkaware regarding drink driving and also the prevention and reduction of harm: 

Firstly, the rationale of those who drink and drive and those who speed is remarkable:  

  • They claim everyone else does it 
  • They think they’re ok, they know what they’re doing 
  • They feel the rules aren’t ‘right’ 
  • And the proof of their non-compliance position, is that they’ve never suffered any harm 

Secondly, it’s as important to know why people don’t drink or drink to excess as it is to know why people do.  And in the case of speeding, the reasons to not speed were: 

  • because they buy into the moral argument that it’s the right thing to do 
  • that it’s the safe thing to do 
  • and they don’t buy into the argument that they need to speed… 
  • … or that they won’t be ‘caught’ 

Thirdly, Dr Fleiter’s description of how being human presents 4 key challenges also resonate: 

  1. We just aren’t good at assessing risk – which is why education and understanding is important. 
  1. Laws aren’t always seen as fair or necessary – which is why they don’t get acted upon. 
  1. Changing behaviour and attitude takes time and resource – and as a nation, we do not put enough into this, as government measures are more interventionist than preventative by nature, and environmental and legislative in practice. 
  1. Behaviour is complex and education may shift knowledge but not necessarily motivation and therefore action. 

Fourthly, Guro Ranes from Norway proffered some interesting perspectives on speeding:  the public’s wide acceptance of the low 30km limit in urban areas with high activities of vulnerable road users and close proximity to schools, shows an appreciation of a strong protective and shared moral value, that was well communicated.  I was also struck by its campaign to challenge and address the public mindset that “everyone speeds” and wonder might similar apply here? 

Fifthly, Rod King MBE’s commentary on how to maximise the success of reduced limits is also applicable to our work in preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm regarding drink driving:  it’s not just traffic engineering, but marketing, communications, and engagement that taps into the value-based beliefs of compliers, challenges and busts the unhelpful myths on the issue, and goes a long way to supporting the creation of new social norms. 

Sixthly, As Drinkaware often advocates, we need to acknowledge and speak to the progress that is made in order to further it, and Superintendent Sean Fallon did likewise in his presentation on how trends have shifted towards more positive outcomes. 

And the final word goes to RSA Chair Liz Donnell who said in response to a question:

“We all have collective responsibility for safety on our roads”. 

 RSA Chair Liz Donnell