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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Publicity campaigns



Publicity campaigns

Publicity campaigns may raise awareness about the problem of driver fatigue and possible countermeasures. Possible campaign themes may include [35]:

  • Driving when fatigued is a risk equal to driving drunk
  • Tactical use of driver rotation, caffeine, napping
  • Encouraging drivers to consider fatigue-related driving risk as a personal responsibility
  • Educating the community on minimum sleep requirements and fatigue warning signs
  • Challenging existing incorrect beliefs about personal ability to cope with fatigue
  • Targeting specific populations (such as driving schools, sleep disorder clinics) with direct education.

Fatigue awareness campaigns have been used in USA, Australia, New Zealand, UK, France and Germany. 'Don't drive tired' messages feature on variable message signs in Europe and some US states. The UK Department for Transport has featured tiredness in its Think! Road Safety campaign since 2000. A qualitative research led to recommendations for improvement of the campaign:

At the moment evaluations of campaign effects on behaviour and crashes are lacking. In general, a road safety publicity campaign, by itself, has only modest impact on attitudes and behaviour and no significant impact on crashes. Campaigns work best when combined with other interventions, such as enforcement of traffic laws and regulations, or provision of other safety services and products [24].

In the area of driver fatigue as in other health-related areas, awareness may not be enough to motivate drivers to adopt self-protective behaviour. Reyner & Horne [92] note that perception of sleepiness does not result in cessation of driving. Nordbakke & Sagberg [82] found that a large proportion of drivers did not get sufficient sleep before a long drive or did not stop and take a nap when they experienced sleepiness while driving. The drivers did not take these precautions despite their awareness of the risks involved in these behaviours. Although it is possible to educate or teach drivers to become more aware of the early signs of fatigue or sleepiness, it is probably very difficult to make them take a break from driving. Sagberg [98] believes that a strong motivation to reach their destination in time will make driver try various ways of combating fatigue. However, this is exactly the combat that the driver often loses. In this regard, a problem for public fatigue campaigns is that fatigued driving by private drivers is not punishable by law. It is therefore difficult if not impossible, at least where private drivers are concerned to link public campaign themes with enforcement or legal consequences. For professional drivers, the case is different since there is legislation and the possibility of enforcement concerning work and rest hours.