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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Public acceptance



Public acceptance

Road safety improvements greatly benefit society, by reducing injuries, loss of lives and other general economic costs, associated with police, medical care, and emergency services. But at an individual level these benefits are not always recognized, as countermeasures can also interfere with a person's freedom. This is particularly true for young drivers: as their driving license is their passport to adulthood, the gateway to independence and an opportunity to enlarge the social circle. Most of the measures proposed here and particularly the most effective ones, complicate their access to a driving license and reduce the young drivers' mobility in the first stages of solo driving. In addition, these countermeasures may also be perceived as unfair as they do not only affect bad drivers, but every young novice driver irrespective of his previous driving record. These types of general measures often meet with more resistance than those targeted on 'problem' drivers only. Finally, the predictable bad reception of these types of measures by citizens make politicians reluctant to introduce them.

Even though all these difficulties exist, it should not be forgotten that other important measures on road safety, such as the use of seatbelts or helmets, or the limits on alcohol were also badly received by the public at first. Nowadays, they have become standard practice in most countries, and in particular the alcohol policies are supported by the majority of the population [31]. This means that initial resistance should not discourage the implementation of these measures, as acceptance will grow over time.

Despite the fact that measures will meet with initial resistance, a lot can be done to ease the implementation process. In gaining acceptance the following aspects are important to consider:

  • The cooperation of relevant actors. Many earn their living in the driver training, the testing industry, and car insurance companies. Care should be taken to involve them in the process.
  • Parents: They care about their children, but are badly informed about the actual risk. Inform and involve them
  • Young drivers-to-be. They have to accept the changes. Their problem awareness is low. Inform them.

A good example of how to generate the public debate in this field is the initiative of some Australian states [36][37].