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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Education and publicity campaigns

Education and publicity campaigns



Education and publicity campaigns

Road users can be made better aware of the risk of inappropriate speeds to themselves and others through road users education and driver training, publicity campaigns and driver (improvement) courses. In addition, these instruments can be used to inform road users about specific speed management measures, in particular about the reasons, the expected benefits and, preferably, also about the realised effects. Education and publicity are conditional on other speed reduction measures, such as speed enforcement and the acceptance of legal changes. On its own, the effect of education and publicity in changing actual speed behaviour is likely to be limited.


Road user education and driver training

Structural traffic education as part of the school curriculum is generally limited to primary schools. At that age, the possibilities of influencing later speed behaviour of the pupils are limited. Perhaps it is possible to introduce children to the 'speed' problem, with the purpose of them talking to their parents about their speed behaviour.

For the young in secondary schools, the (theoretical) preparations for a driver licence or, in some countries, a moped certificate may be the right moment to turn their attention to the consequences of driving (too) fast. That driving too fast leads to more and more severe crashes applies to mopedists just as much as to motorists. The question remains, of course, of the extent to which this sort of information influences the actual speed behaviour of the novice mopedist and later on as motorist.

Subsequently there is the driver training. Clearly, the future motorist has to learn what a safe speed is and how speed and speeding relate to road safety. This concerns, for example, speed limits and why they have been fixed at the speeds they are, and adapting one's speed to the circumstances, etc. They also have to be taught to anticipate and adapt their speed in time. However, during driving lessons, the driving instructor has a difficult message. On the one hand, there is the message 'keep to the speed limit', and, on the other hand there is the message that 'going with the flow' is safer. But 'the flow' is often faster than the speed limit. In addition, if the (learner) car driver does keep to the speed limit, he/she will often be overtaken. The (learner) driver will practically never see the negative consequences for these 'speeders': i.e. a crash, a fine. This does not exactly contribute to a deep respect for speed limits nor to realizing the need for obeying speed limits.

All together, the effects of road user education and driver training on their own on actual speed behaviour must considered to be limited. Nevertheless, education and the driver training is essential to provide information on the why and how of speed limits, and the risks of excess and inappropriate speed.


Publicity campaigns

Publicity campaigns and (other) information do not or hardly ever, on their own, lead directly to behavioural change, but they are a prerequisite for other measures [14]. It is generally known that campaigns and information can considerably increase the effectiveness of police control. Publicity campaigns could also be used more often in order to explain the goal, necessity, and effects of measures such as physical speed limiters and 30 km/h zones. Besides this, campaigns can be used to make people aware of the problem of driving (too) fast. Research has shown that a convincing, emotional approach is more effective than a rational, informative approach [13].

Publicity campaigns are usually aimed at the road user him/herself. However, they can also be aimed at his/her social surroundings. The success of this has been shown by campaigns against drink-driving, which is socially unacceptable nowadays. An attempt should be made to discover if the same applies to speeding.

One of the problems in convincing people not to speed is the discrepancy between the individual advantages and societal disadvantages. The Netherlands recently launched the 'The New Driving Force' campaign, which links the (especially environmental) social advantages with the individual advantages. This campaign is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of the Environment and the Dutch Ministry of Transport. It aims at a calm, fuel-efficient driving style for both private and commercial drivers. The emphasis is on increased comfort and money saving for the individual driver, and increased environmental and safety quality for society as a whole (


Driver improvement courses

Driver improvement courses generally follow a serious traffic violation or are related to a particular level of demerit points. A course can be compulsory or voluntary, e.g. in combination with a reduction of the fine. Most driver improvement courses are related to drink-driving offences. Driver improvement courses also relate to safe/defensive driving in general. Only a few countries apply driver improvement courses related to speed offences, e.g. Austria, Switzerland, Finland [26]. For methodological reasons, it is very difficult to assess the effectiveness of driver improvement courses. Those studies that did, generally found that the effects on accident risk are small [34][20] or non-existent [43].