Encouraging drivers to slow down in town

Road Safety Scotland - Leith

Speed, or rather, excess speed, is one of the principle causes of road traffic accidents. Not because of an increased likelihood of crashing per se but because the greater your speed, the less chance you have to reach to unexpected incidents on the road – a child dashing out or an elderly person struggling to get across. This feels like common sense when you’re driving at 70 (or more) on a country road, but exceeding the speed limit in built up areas feels like less of a big deal. Everyone’s been there before – rushing to make an amber light, speeding up to overtake a car that’s pottering along when you want to get home.

This is tried and trodden territory for road safety advertising. Some of the most memorable road safety adverts are those encouraging people to reduce their speed in urban areas. But people always think of accidents as happening to other people; to ‘worse’ drivers who don’t have the road sense that they do. “I am a good driver – accidents only happen if you take risks.” Innate confidence reinforced by the fact that most of us haven’t ever been involved in a traffic accident. This attitude – this sense of infallibility – was our biggest hurdle when we were tasked by the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland with encouraging drivers to slow down in urban areas.

Research confirmed our suspicions, showing that exceeding the speed limit in urban areas was only seen as a potential hazard by a minority of drivers. The majority maintained that distractions (speaking on the phone, changing a CD, texting) were a greater threat. For years of road safety advertising, we’ve struggled with how we depict the consequences of bad behaviour on the roads. Evidence suggests that showing the worst possible outcome (death) allows drivers to switch off. “I’m a good driver – that won’t happen to me.” As much as they might remember a message, it doesn’t necessarily persuade them to change. We needed to think of a fresh, new way to dramatise the dangers of speeding, making the issue more abstract, removing driver ‘blame’ and focusing instead simply on the vulnerability of pedestrians on the roads.

Chris and Rufus created a campaign idea that centred around fragility. It is easy to forget how fragile we are, especially when life is busy. Often it takes a nasty fall, a heavy gym session or the slip of a knife on a chopping board to remind us that we are easily broken.

This idea led the creatives to dramatise the relationship between people and traffic as a metaphor, using a collection of well-travelled eggs (they were escorted from the illustrator’s studio in London to the photo shoot in Edinburgh via a careful courier on a train) to encourage drivers to re-frame the way they think about their behaviour on urban roads.

A simple call to action reminded them to slow down in town.

Road Safety Scotland - Leith
Road Safety Scotland - Leith

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