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The Wasted Lives Young Driver Education Programme has been developed by Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety and aims to change attitudes that young people have towards taking risks on the road, to influence their driving behaviour, and ultimately to save lives. It comprises four modules which are conducted within an interactive environment in which participants are encouraged to learn from one another, to discuss their own experiences and beliefs, and to reflect on their own driving decisions. This format is more likely to achieve lasting changes in how young people behave when in a car, either as a driver or passenger.
The modules are as follows:
Fast and Loose - explores use of seat belts, the potential consequences of speeding, and the difference between speeding and inappropriate speed.
Risk it - addresses the effects on the body of alcohol, and how long it stays in the body's system. It is a flexible module so that young people can be shown how to calculate when they are safe to drive after drinking alcohol and given problems to solve, or be given a broad overview of whether or not it is safe to drive the morning after drinking alcohol. The law related to drink driving is also covered.
FIT to drive - to take responsibility for not taking drugs and driving and also being aware as a passenger; to understand the consequences of drug driving including how prescription and over-the-counter drugs affect the body and how it stays in the body's system; to broaden knowledge and understanding of the law relating to drug driving.
Missing Matthew - is a video that tells the story of a family struggling to come to terms with the death of their son, Matthew, who died in a car crash. Matthew's sister talks about how much she misses her brother, and his parents talk about the horror of finding out that it was their son who had crashed and that there was nothing that could be done to save his life. This is an emotionally charged module which often causes some young people to cry, and is always watched in a very somber atmosphere. It is followed directly by the lunch break. The module also explores the wide range of people who are affected by a car crash and highlights that those affected go far beyond the victim and their immediate friends and family.
To measure the extent to which Wasted Lives meets its objectives.
- To measure the extent to which any effect is maintained at three months post-intervention.
- To explore the mechanisms by which any effect is achieved.
- To identify any gender differences in the effect of the intervention.
- To gain feedback from young people on the method of delivery of Wasted Lives.
- To identify the key messages that young people recall from Wasted Lives.
- To explore the emotional impact of Missing Matthew.
The research makes use of mixed methods ' questionnaires and focus groups. Questionnaires were collected at three time points: directly before Wasted Lives, within the first week after Wasted Lives, and three months afterwards. Focus groups took place at a range of times following Wasted Lives ' some were held within a few days of the intervention, and some were held nearly three months after Wasted Lives. This enabled us to gain insight into the immediate effects, and the more long-lasting ones. Data collection took place over the period of December 2008 to May 2009.
The questionnaire (time 2 version) is shown in Appendix 1. The questionnaire comprises several sections:
- A series of questions addressing risky attitudes towards road user behaviour, and intentions to take risks in the future. This part of the questionnaire is called YARD (Young people's Attitudes to Risky Driving). Questions cover risk taking, speeding, seat belts, drink diving and drug driving. Respondents indicate on a five-point Likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree) how much they agree or disagree with each statement. For example:
- Driving is more fun when you take a few risks;
- If I don't wear a seat belt I'm putting myself at risk;
- In the future I will never drive above the speed limit.
Possible scores range from 24 to 120, with higher scores indicating greater risk. The data were screened, and analysis of individual items indicated that YARD could be analysed as a single scale. Further details of the distribution of scores and the internal consistency of the scale are shown in Appendix 2.
- A series of questions that ask respondents to categorise themselves into a particular type of driver with respect to speeding, wearing a seat belt, and drink driving.
- A section in which respondents report their preferred speed on different types of roads (30mph urban roads, 40mph roads, 60mph country roads, dual carriageways, motorways).
- The post-intervention (time 2) questionnaire included a section in which respondents reported their perceptions of the best and worst aspect of Wasted Lives, and whether it will change the way in which the behave in the future as a driver or passenger.
- The follow-up (time 3) questionnaire included a section in which respondents reported the main things that they recall from Wasted Lives, whether or not they recall being worried by Wasted Lives, whether it changed the way in which they have behaved as a driver or passenger.
A total of 550 participants took part in the research. They had taken part in one workplace (British Aerospace) and six different colleges: Lancaster and Morecambe; Accrington and Rossendale; Skelmersdale and Ormskirk; Blackburn; Runshaw; and Preston. As Wasted Lives is targeted towards young males, it is unsurprising that the majority of participants (69%) were male. At the time they attended Wasted Lives, only a minority of participants (20%) already held a driving licence, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: The driving status of participants.
||Drive a car
||Learning to drive a car
||Ride a motorbike or scooter
||Don't drive or ride|
Completed questionnaires were coded and entered into a statistical package. When constructing the YARD scale any incomplete questionnaires were discarded. This left 517 fully completed questionnaires at time 1, 375 at time 2, and 106 at time 3. Fewer questionnaires were available at time 3 because some of the Wasted Lives sessions took place less than three months before the time of this report. Nevertheless, not all participants who were eligible to complete the time 3 questionnaires did so. To ensure that those who returned their questionnaires were no different (e.g. more safety focussed) than those who did not, their YARD scores at time 1 were compared and no significant difference was found.
Six focus groups were held with students from four different colleges: Runshaw College; Accrington and Rossendale College; Preston College; and Lancaster and Morecambe College. Each focus group contained between six and eight students. Purposive sampling was used to achieve a broad mix of young people ' males and females with different driving experience. All gave informed consent to take part and for the group to be audio recorded. The focus groups explored participants' responses to Wasted Lives, any effect that it had on their attitudes and their driving behaviour, and any barriers to driving more safely that they have experienced. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed thematically: text was broken down into units of meaning and grouped into themes and subthemes.
Risky attitudes YARD scores were calculated before, within one week after, and three months after Wasted Lives, and the means scores at each time period are shown in Figure 1. The error bars indicate the 95% confidence interval around the mean.
Figure 1: Risky attitudes towards driving at the three different time points of the study
Mean YARD scores decreased from 56.9 to 52.1 after Wasted Lives, indicating a decrease in risky attitudes and intentions. Three months after Wasted Lives scores increased slightly but were less risky than before Wasted Lives (54.1). This is an excellent result, and indicates that Wasted Lives has an extended protective effect for the young people who take part.
The long-term protective effect of Wasted Lives is shown separately for males and females in Figure 2. This analysis was conducted on the data from participants who completed questionnaires both before and three months after Wasted Lives. Females have consistently lower YARD scores than males. A mixed ANOVA was conducted, with time point as the within-subjects factor and gender as the betweensubjects factor. There is a significant main effect of Wasted Lives F (1, 95) = 68.9, p < 0.001, indicating that risky attitudes are lower three months after Wasted Lives than before, i.e. that Wasted Lives has a long-term protective effect. There is also a significant effect of gender: F (1, 95) = 2679, p < 0.001, indicating that females have significantly lower risky attitudes. There is a significant interaction between gender and time: F (1, 95) = 9.64, p < 0.001, indicating that the long-term impact of Wasted Lives is greater in females than in males. This is standard in road safety interventions in which any change Brainbox Research Ltd | 0113 238 0157 | email@example.com | www.brainboxresearch.com 12 achieved is usually greater in females than in males and the effect is often not maintained in males (e.g. King et al., 2008).
Figure 2: Differential effect of Wasted Lives on YARD scores in males and females.
Participants were asked to categorise their own behaviour for speeding, wearing seat belts, and drink driving. The way in which their self-reported behaviour changes before and after attending Wasted Lives is described in sections 3.2.1-3.2.3 and also in 3.5.3, and statistical analysis is reported at the end (section 3.2.4). Finally, participants were asked about their preferred speeds on different types of road, and changes in these preferred speeds are reported in section 3.2.5. 3.2.1
Participants were asked to categorise themselves according to their speeding behaviour. They were given four choices, based on our previous research around speeding (Fylan et al., 2006). These were:
- I want to be a careful driver and I don't like taking risks on the road. I prefer always to drive within the speed limit (termed careful).
- I don't mind driving a little faster than the speed limit, and I don't mind taking an occasional risk, but I also want to be a safe driver (termed safe).
- I sometimes drive quite a lot faster than the speed limit, and to take risks, but even so, I'm unlikely to have a crash (termed risky).
- I enjoy driving as fast as the car will go. I enjoy taking risks on the road and the thrill that I get when I nearly lose control (termed thrill seeking)
The percentage of males and females categorising themselves in the different groups is shown in Table 2.
Table 2: The percentage of participants categorising themselves in terms of speeding.
Before Wasted Lives
After Wasted Lives
3 months after
Females categorise themselves as safer than males. There is a clear shift in the way in which participants categorise themselves, with both males and females describing themselves as a safer type of driver after Wasted Lives, and the effect is maintained at three months, particularly in females.
Seat belts Similarly, participants were asked to categorise themselves according to their use of seat belts. They were given five choices, based on previous research into the choices that people make about seat belts (Christmas et al., 2008). These were:
- I always wear a seat belt (termed always).
- I normally wear a seat belt, but occasionally I forget (termed normally).
- I usually wear a seat belt, but sometimes I prefer not to, such as in the back seat, for short journeys, or when my friends don't wear theirs (termed usually).
- I sometimes wear a seat belt (termed sometimes).
- I never wear a seat belt (termed never).
Table 3: The percentage of participants categorising themselves in terms of seat belt use.
Before Wasted Lives
After Wasted Lives
3 months after
There is a clear shift in participants' self-reports of seat belt wear after Wasted Lives, with more participants reporting that they always wear a seat belt. The effect is maintained at three months follow up in females, but not in males. However at three-month follow up none of the males reported that they never wear a seat belt, compared with 2% who did before Wasted Lives.
Participants were also asked to categorise themselves according to whether they drink drive. They were given five choices:
- I never drive after I have drunk alcohol (termed never).
- I drive after drinking alcohol, but only when I'm certain I'm under the limit. (termed below limit).
- I drive after drinking alcohol, even if I think there's a chance I might be slightly over the limit (termed maybe over).
- I occasionally drive after drinking alcohol even though I know I am over the limit (termed sometimes over).
- I drive regardless of how much alcohol I have drunk (termed regardless). The percentage of participants who categorised themselves in each group is shown in Table 4. While the majority of participants report that they would never drive after drinking alcohol, the percentage is higher in females.
Table 4: The percentage of participants categorising themselves in terms of drink driving.
||Before Wasted Lives
||After Wasted Lives
||3 months after|
Before attending Wasted Lives the majority of participants reported that they would never drive after drinking alcohol, and this number increases afterwards, and increases even further at follow up. This shift is observed in both males and females. The main difference between males and females is that some of the males but none of the females reported that they would drive even if they knew there was a chance that they might be over the limit.
To help visualise the impact that Wasted Lives has had, the different categories were coded with higher numbers indicating increased risk (e.g. for speeding: careful = 1; safe = 2; risky = 3; thrill seeking = 4). The mean values before and after Wasted Lives are shown in Figure 3. To aid comparison between the scales (the speed scale has four choices, and the seat belt and drink drive scales have five) they are displayed as a ratio of maximum score. Higher scores indicate greater risk and the maximum score is one, which would indicate the most risky behaviour type, e.g. never wearing a seat belt, and driving regardless of how much alcohol they have drunk.
Figure 3 indicates that speeding is the most risky behaviour that participants report, followed by seat belt use, then by drink driving, which has a very low score.
Figure 3: Mean category risk score before and after Wasted Lives.
Changes in self-categorised risky behaviour were tested statistically using mixed ANOVAs.1 As not all participants had completed all three questionnaires at the time of this report, two separate analyses were performed: a comparison between pre- and post-Wasted Lives, and a comparison of pre-Wasted Lives and three-months-post. This approach maximises the number of participant who can be entered into the analysis. To compensate for multiple tests a more conservative Bonferroni-corrected significance level of 0.01 was adopted. The following results were calculated:
- There is a significant decrease in speeding category score following Wasted Lives: F (1, 373) = 35.24, p<0.001, indicating that after Wasted Lives participants view themselves as significantly less likely to speed. There is a significant effect of gender F (1,373) = 32.02, p < 0.0001, indicating that females classify themselves as significantly less likely to speed than males. The interaction between gender and Wasted Lives was not significant, indicating that Wasted Lives does not have a differential effect for males and females on how participants categorise themselves with respect to speeding. At three-month follow-up females categorise themselves as significantly less likely to speed than males: F (1,100) = 24.36, p <0.001, but the significant change in speeding category score is not maintained, indicating that Wasted Lives does not have an extended protective effect for speeding.
- There is a significant main effect of the intervention on wearing a seat belt F (1,377) = 27.39, p < 0.001, indicating that after Wasted Lives participants classify themselves as significantly more
1 Neither Mauchly's test of sphericity nor Levene's test of homogeneity of variance were significant, so no adjustments were required. While normality was deviated, the ANOVA is robust in non-normal distributions. However, a non-parametric Friedman's test was also run, which supported the results of the ANOVAs.
likely to wear a seat belt. There is also a significant effect of gender F (1,377) = 6.02, p < 0.015, indicating that females are more likely to wear a seat belt than males. The interaction between gender and Wasted Lives is not significant, indicating that Wasted Lives does not have a differential effect for males and females on how participants categorise themselves with respect to wearing a seat belt. At three-month follow-up the gender difference between males and females has reduced: F (1,106) = 4.88, p = 0.029, and this has been achieved because males are more likely to report wearing seat belts, but the significant change in seat belt category does not reach the more conservative statistical significance level: F (1, 106) = 4.06, p=0.047. However, there is a clear trend in the data that young people are more likely to report wearing seat belts at three-month follow up than before Wasted Lives.
- While participants classified themselves as less likely to drive when over the drink-drive limit after Wasted Lives, the effect did not quite reach statistical significance using the more conservative value F (1,164) = 4.88, p = 0.028. There is a significant effect of gender F (1,364) = 12.09, p = 0.001, indicating that females classify themselves as significantly less likely to drive after drinking alcohol than males. The interaction between gender and Wasted Lives was not significant, indicating that Wasted Lives does not have a differential effect for males and females on how participants categorise themselves with respect to drink driving. At three months follow-up, the shift in participants reporting themselves as less likely to drink drive is maintained, but does not quite reach statistical significance: F (1, 96) = 3.74, p=0.056. Once again, females are less likely to report drink driving than males: F (1,96) = 6.03, p=0.016). There is not a significant interaction between gender and Wasted Lives.
Participants were asked their preferred driving speed on different types of roads. The mean speeds reported by males and females on the different roads are shown in Table 4. Males prefer statistically significantly higher speeds than females across all types of road at all three time points.
Table 4: Preferred speeds on different roads types before and after Wasted Lives.
Before Wasted Lives
After Wasted Lives
3 months after
|30mph urban roads
|60mph country roads
The results were analysed using repeated measures t tests at two time points (before and after Wasted Lives, and before and three months after Wasted Lives), using a Bonferroni-corrected significance level of 0.01. Participants reported that they prefer to travel at significantly lower speeds after Wasted Lives than before on 30mph roads (t=5.17, p<0.001), 40mph roads (t=4.18, p<0.001) and motorways (t=4.88, p<0.001) but the reductions were not statistically significant at follow-up.
Has Wasted Lives changed self-reported road user behaviour?
Participants were asked whether Wasted Lives has changed the way in which they behave as a driver or rider, or as a passenger.
- 76% of participants who ride or drive said that Wasted Lives would change their behaviour. The changes they reported they would make (or had already made) included driving slower, wearing a seat belt, not overtaking when it's not safe to do so, being more aware of other drivers, not drinking alcohol and driving or driving after taking drugs, not taking risks, and not being distracted by passengers.
- At three-month follow up 40% reported that they had made changes. These included that they drive more carefully or safely, that they take more time to look for other road users, that they slow down when going past schools, that they are more aware of the risks that they face on the road, and that they don't act stupidly on the road.
- 70% of participants reported that Wasted Lives would change the way they behave as a passenger. They changes they would make (or had already made) included always wearing a seat belt and not distracting the driver or encouraging them to take risks.
- At three-month follow-up 54% reported that they had made some changes as a passenger. These included putting their seat belt on, making sure that other people in the car are wearing their seat belt, not arguing with other passengers, not distracting the driver, not encouraging the driver to speed, and not getting into a car driven by somebody who has drunk alcohol or taken drugs.
Participants were asked how Wasted Lives will affect the way they behave on the roads. This could be any road use, such as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. They were given four options:
- I'll take a lot less risks.
- I'll take a few less risks.
- It's not made any difference.
- I'll take more risks.
After Wasted Lives, 66% of participants reported that they would take a lot fewer risks, and 21% reported that they would take a few less risks. Only 12% reported that it would make no difference. The percentage of participants who reported each option is shown separately for males and females in Figure 4.
The results were analysed separately for those young people who drive or are learning to drive: 64% reported that they will take a lot fewer risks, 29% that they would take fewer risks, and 7% that it will make no difference. There were no significant differences in intention to take fewer risks between those who drive, ride, or don't drive or ride.
Figure 4: Participants' reports of the effect Wasted Lives will have on their risk-taking behaviour.
There is a significant association between gender and self-reported change in risk taking (�2 = 8.03, p = 0.045). Figure 4 suggests that more females than males reported that Wasted Lives would make them take a lot fewer risks, and also more that it would make no difference.
The reasons that participants gave for Wasted Lives not making any difference is that they already drive within the speed limit, never drink and drive, always drive safely, and they don't like to take risks. Only one participant (a male) reported that Wasted Lives will not make any difference because he likes taking risks. These results suggest that females are already risk-adverse and so this might explain the greater number of females who report that they will not make any changes following Wasted Lives.
At three-month follow-up participants were asked about whether Wasted Lives had changed the way they behave on the road. 52% reported that they now take a lot fewer risks, 21% that they take fewer risks, and 27% that it had made no difference. The results are shown separately for males and females in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Participants' reports of the effect Wasted Lives has had on their risk-taking behaviour.
None of the respondents reported that Wasted Lives had made them take more risks. Figure 5 shows that more females reported that Wasted Lives has made them take fewer risks. There is a significant association between gender and self-reported prolonged changes in risk taking (�2 = 24.05, p < 0.001). Nearly all the females (92%) reported that Wasted Lives has resulted in them taking a lot fewer risks on the road whereas the males who reported that they would take fewer risks (62%) were split more evenly between those who would take a lot fewer risks and those who would take fewer risks.
Participants were asked why Wasted Lives would or would not affect their risk-taking. As before, most of those who reported that it would make no difference explained that they didn't take risks before taking part in Wasted Lives. Those who reported they would take fewer risks gave a range of reasons, mainly that they are now more aware that their behaviour affects other people's safety as well as their own, that taking risks can lead to loss of life, that they are more aware of the dangers they face on the road, that they realise their life is important and not worth risking, that they are scared of crashing, that they are more aware of the impact that taking risks can have on themselves and other people, and that they are more aware of the need to concentrate.
Response to Wasted Lives
What do participants like most about Wasted Lives?
Participants were asked about the three best things about Wasted Lives; they were free to answer in any way. A content analysis was undertaken and the following nine categories emerged. They are listed in order of how frequently they were mentioned, and Figure 6 shows the relative frequency with which these categories occurred.
Participants described how they enjoyed the exercises and the demonstrations. The beer goggles demonstration was often mentioned. They enjoyed the tasks and tests they were set, and the discussions within their groups and with the tutors. They particularly enjoyed the plenary session in which they developed their own message, and produced a poster. They appreciated the opportunity to exchange views and to explore perceptions.
Participants described how they enjoyed the video presentations, and some highlighted that they found the adverts and pictures very hard hitting. Others noted how they found the Missing Matthew video very moving.
Knowledge of risks and consequences
Participants noted that Wasted Lives gave them much greater awareness of the risks they face on the road and the potential consequences of the decisions they make. They described how they are much more aware of the risks and consequences of drug driving, drink driving, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt. They described how Wasted Lives helped them to realise it is important not to take these risks.
Learning new things
Participants described how they enjoyed learning new facts, and becoming aware of different aspects of road safety. They described how they now understood a lot more about traffic rules. Some participants described how Wasted Lives gave them new information that would help them when they started to learn to drive.
It has impact
Participants described the impact of Wasted Lives, and how it gets its point across and made them think about things. Some described it as shocking, and others that it "knocks some sense into you". Several described how it had made them feel lucky to be alive, and made them realise the value of life and what they have to lose. They realised that it's not worth taking risks.
Several participants simply noted that Wasted Lives was fun. Some noted that it was fun and serious at the same time. They described how Wasted Lives was interesting and engaging, and that the staff were friendly and easy to talk to.
It changes behaviour
Some participants described how it will make them drive more safely in the future. Others described how they found it very useful, and that they believe it is very well suited to the target audience of young people. Some identified specific behaviours Wasted Lives has changed, such as they will always wear a seat belt or that they will slow down. Several described how it has shown them how to keep safe on the roads.
Figure 6: The relative frequency with which different themes occurred in the data.
What do participants recall about Wasted Lives?
Participants contacted at the three-month follow-up point were asked about the three main things they remembered about Wasted Lives; they were free to answer in any way. A content analysis was undertaken and the following four categories were identified. They are described below, and Figure 7 shows the relative frequency with which these categories occurred.
The information gained and how to keep safe on the roads
This category is all about information recalled that could help participants stay safe on the roads. It includes facts they learned during Wasted Lives, for example on how to calculate when it is safe to drive after drinking alcohol, the importance of wearing a seat belt, of driving safely and carefully, and the need to watch out for dangers on the road.
Discussion and interaction
This category relates to the interactive nature of the course and includes the discussions that took place, the group work, the activities, such as the beer goggles exercise, the breathalyser demonstration, and the final session of developing a poster.
Participants recalled the videos or crash scenes, and many described the emotions they experienced, such as feeling scared, sad, and touched. Several specified recalling the Missing Mathew video most. A small minority described the videos as shocking or traumatic. This will be explored in more detail in the following section.
Risks and their consequences
Participants recalled the different risks they face on the road, and the consequences of these risks, such as the increased likelihood of crashing if you speed, and the effects that drugs can have on driving decisions.
Figure 7: The relative frequency with which different recall categories occurred in the data.
The emotional impact of Wasted Lives
Respondents who completed the follow-up questionnaire were asked whether anything about Wasted Lives made them worried: 43% reported that it had, and they were asked about what worried them. A range of different worries was expressed, and examples of the different types are shown in Table 5.
Table 5: the different anxieties that respondents had about Wasted Lives
|When driving you can bump the curb and this can cause a car collision and cause danger.
||You should not be drinking while driving. It is very dangerous and you might be in crash.|
|A slight mistake can end your life.
||You have to keep the passenger safe.|
|You could have a car crash or a big accident.
||You might run over someone.|
|The videos because it makes you take more care in what you do on the road.
||Risks that other drivers take and how it may affect me.|
|How many people die.
||Criminal record-not getting the job I wanted.|
|The lad that died and the mum and dad talking about it.
These results do not indicate that young people find Wasted Lives too traumatic.While they do recall being worried by the videos, their concerns appear to be mainly around being more aware of the consequences of unsafe driving leading to a heightened sense of responsibility. This is explored further in the qualitative results.
Focus group results: exploring the impact of Wasted Lives
Six focus groups were conducted in Further Education Colleges in the region with young people who had attended the Wasted Lives presentation. A thematic analysis was undertaken on the data collected during the focus groups: text was broken down into units of meaning and grouped together into themes that describe young people's attitude to driving and being a passenger, and their experience of Wasted Lives Three main themes were identified in the data:
- Safety and risk
- Pressure on young drivers
- The experience of Wasted Lives
Each of these themes is described below, and illustrated with quotes from the focus groups.
Safety and risk
This theme is presented in three main sections: understanding and experience; responsibility and mitigation; and residual risks.
Understanding and Experience
This sub-theme describes young people's understanding and experiences of the risks they face on the road, and the measures they can take to keep safe.
After attending Wasted Lives the young people demonstrated in-depth knowledge about the risks they face as drivers and passengers. They were able to list the ways that they and other people can keep safe, for example by sticking to speed limits, not using mobile phones whilst driving, and keeping their distance from other vehicles. They understood that using seat belts keep you safe, that they should avoid distractions, and that distractions are more dangerous if they are speeding. They recognised factors that can affect their driving, such as being tired, or being late or hurried. They also recognised the need to be aware of other drivers and of the weather conditions. They perceived the risk of being complacent on certain types of road, such as country roads, and they also understood that they are subject to risks from external factors not under their control, such as children playing. The following quotes demonstrate the young people's understanding of the risks they face and how they can keep safe.
"Make sure you stay at the speed limit."
"Don't answer your mobile phone."
"Make sure your windows are wound down a bit so you've got some fresh air."
"Make sure you're not tired."
"When you're driving don't get right up, sit further back so you've got braking distance."
"Seat belt. I mean wearing a seat belt." "Not compensating for conditions as well."
"The type of road you're on. Like motorways and country roads where you think there's nobody about."
"Children playing with balls and stuff, always kicking them in the road."
"Well if you're doing something like 100 odd mph and trying to sort the radio out, you've screwed it."
The young people demonstrated an excellent understanding of the potentially fatal risks involved in being a driver or a passenger. They recognised both the physical risks in the form of injury and the long-term emotional implications of being involved in a collision, as illustrated in the following exchange.
Interviewer: "Can you describe for me the risks of being a passenger or a driver?"
Young person 1: "Death."
Young person 2: "Injury."
Young person 3: "Flashbacks"
Interviewer: "When you say flashbacks, what do you mean?
Young person 3: "You'll never forget it, will you"
After attending Wasted Lives young people understood that it is impossible to make good decisions about driving after drinking alcohol, and they knew about the serious implications of being caught drink driving, such as prison sentences, loss of driving licence, and loss of employment. They understood that it is possible to have alcohol in your system the morning after drinking, and that this impairs the ability to think properly. However they didn't think other people understand this, and in this way they considered themselves better informed than other people as a result of attending Wasted Lives. Their understanding of the risks of drink and drug driving is illustrated below.
"If you're drunk and you're driving, you don't know what speed you're going to do."
"Yeah but everyone says that but after they've had a drink they forget they've said it."
"You'd probably get done for it [drink driving]. Sent to court and that."
"Yes, you'd ruin your job, and if you wanted to get another driving job in the future you wouldn't be able to get one because you'd been banned."
"You shouldn't drive if you've had too much to drink the night before, you shouldn't be driving the next day."
"You can feel it because after I've been out, I've driven my car and you feel the different, you just think I'm not over the limit because I've been to sleep and stuff."
"I don't think people understand the fact that it's still in your system."
Young people understood that drugs impair driving, and they knew that there are penalties to being caught drug driving, such as being banned. They understood that some drugs slow your reactions and that other drugs cause hallucinations, and that people are incapable of driving after taking those types of drugs. They were aware of some of the ways that the police can tell if you are driving after taking drugs. This is demonstrated in the following focus group exchanges.
"That crystal dust. It makes you see spiders in you and stuff and you try wipe them off but they just don't move. And all it is bright lights all over you and you're there trying to rub them off but it just doesn't work."
Interviewer: "So do you think you'd be able to drive a car at the same time?"
"Would you frig. There'd be spiders all over the car." "All drugs you have a buzz and then you're monged out." "The only way to drive is sober"
"They'd [the police] be able to tell by your eyes, your pupils." [Then it's a] "Straight ban, isn't it?"
Young people also understood that the speed they choose to travel at impacts on their safety, and they recognise that being in a hurry or agitated will affect the driver's speed, as would trying to compete with other cars on the road. They understood the fact that you must choose an appropriate speed for the context you are in, and that speeding is thrilling but the consequences outweigh that thrill.
"If you speed up you're going to get more accidents."
"If they are in an angry mood they're gonna go faster than if they are in a calm mood � they will go dead slow."
"What sort of mood you're in. If you're mad, you drive fast when you're mad."
"It depends on how fast you want to get to your destination doesn't it?
[People might speed] "if there's any other cars, to see if they can go faster."
"You wouldn't go driving really fast on a Saturday night when there's people around that can walk out to the road."
"It's a buzz, but it's not worth it really, is it?"
Young people in focus groups demonstrated understanding that their behaviour in cars could be risky, and they also understood the risks of dangerous passenger behaviour, which they can't always control.
"You're not to mess around in cars. Young lads do, don't they, start racing each other, swerving in and out. That sort of thing is dangerous, isn't it."
"Can also be noisy passengers because it can distract you even though there's nothing you can do about it."
Young people had experience of being in driving situations that they themselves identified as being risky. Many young people describe their parents' own bad driving and the dangerous driving of other more experienced or professional drivers they have contact with, such as bus drivers. In this way they are able to identify the poor driving of others.
"My dad's even worse on his motorbike. I'll be on the back and he tries to get as much out of it as possible."
"May dad drives too fast."
"Yeah my bus driver's an ex-bizzie he says and he went through them [traffic lights] like twice in one morning where we live. Just burns through them."
Whilst the young people who had attended Wasted Lives showed outstanding levels of knowledge about safety and risk a few still held residual misconceptions, for example the belief that drugs either wouldn't affect people's ability to drive, or that they may even improve people's ability to drive. Some thought it is safer to drink or drug drive if it is something that is done regularly.
"Yeah, but it [taking drugs] doesn't really affect their driving does it."
"He was more alert [after taking the drugs]."
Other young people believed that there is a difference between being drunk the night before and drunk in the morning, and that you are still mentally capable of driving the morning after, even if you are physically over the limit.
"You're still thinking straight. You know what's happening in the morning."
"It doesn't affect your thinking power. It just affects your body, your liver and stuff."
Other young people believed that seat belts could potentially injure you in the event of a collision. A few participants believed that there were greater dangers to them than being involved in a collision.
"Normal seat belts are dangerous."
"It cuts into you neck. I had a cut there."
Responsibility and mitigation
This sub-theme describes the responsibility young people take for their own safety and the safety of others, and the actual steps they take to mitigate the risks that they face on the roads. It is where they have taken action to reduce the likelihood of a collision or an injury.
Young people who had attended Wasted Lives described situations where they had taken steps to make themselves safer. For example, they described aiming to mitigate the seriousness of collisions through the use of seat belts, and they have refused to drive people who won't wear a belt. Some young people can and do assert power as a passenger by insisting that the drivers slows down, and by refusing to get into cars with people who have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Young drivers compared the potential cost of risking their lives to the small cost of taking a taxi.
"That's hard because when I was driving around, the lads in the back of the car didn't wear seat belts. I was like: put your seat belts on now 'cos if I get pulled by the police, you're paying for the fine."
"No, someone said 'get in the car, I will take you home' and I said, no, I know you've had a drink, why am I going to get in a car with you?"
"A tenner for a taxi or your life."
"That's what my mate did. I told him to slow down and he just said 'what's wrong with it?' I just said 'I'm not comfortable going at that speed."
Most of the young people aspired to be safe drivers and they would also use their power as a driver to modify the behaviour of their passengers, for example not allowing people who could potentially distract them into their cars. They also described trying to positively influence the behaviour of others, for example by asking them not to get into cars with unsafe drivers. In addition they displayed a sense of responsibility towards the safety of their passengers.
"I just wouldn't allow muppets in my car."
"I know someone that does it every weekend. Smokes weed and drinks and stuff and then drives home afterwards and people get in his car and I say 'don't get in his car with him' but they still get in the car with him. They just don't listen really."
"Yeah, if they're in my car then I will drive safe."
This sub-theme describes the risks that some young people are still prepared to take on the roads, despite being aware of the associated dangers.
Young people described making spur-of-the moment decisions to get into the car with a drink or drug driver, or doing so to avoid an inconvenience such as having to arrange travelling home by a different method, or not wanting to risk being left out alone at night. Other young people have stayed in the car with a drug driver in order to protect a younger relative.
"Yeah, I've been in the car when he was stoned. It was horrible. My cousin, I weren't going to leave her, she's only 14 and her boyfriend, she was out with him and I was in the car and the car was going like that� he didn't know what he was doing."
Some young people described encouraging their friends to drive quickly when they are a passenger in a friend's car,
Interviewer: "Do you think people drive differently if they've got passengers?"
Young person: "Yeah, people push them to the limit, like I do."
Other young people described putting themselves and others at risk through speeding, and either intentionally or unintentional speeding, or by playing music too loud in their car. Some displayed a fatalistic attitude to their own safety when talking in front of their peers.
"No [I don't stick to the speed limit]. Not in a 30."
"Yeah, but sometimes if you've got your music on really loud, you look down and you're doing more than you should and you think, 'oh crap', but you haven't realised you're doing it."
"No. I have it [music] really loud, I like loud."
"It's just a thrill and it's a laugh really, If you survive, you survive. If you don't you don't."
Young people describe showing less concern for safety when they are not carrying passengers, and they also describe situations as passengers where they don't wear seat belts.
"As long as no-one's in the car, I'll go as fast as I want because it's only me in the car. I'm not putting anyone else at risk."
"If there is three people in the back and you're in the back. You can hardly put it [the seat belt] on, especially if you're in the middle. It's hard, isn't it? So you just think I'll leave it."
Some young people perceive that using a mobile phone while driving is acceptable as long as the person is driving well.
Interviewer: "What do you think when you see people using their phone when they're behind the wheel? Do you think anything of it?"
"Depends if they do anything wrong. If you're in the car and there's someone going past you, close to you, then you go mad, but then if you see someone going past doing no harm, you don't, do you?"
Pressures on young people
This theme is presented in two main sections: pressure from other drivers; and peer and parental pressure.
Pressure from other drivers
This sub-theme describes how young people who attended Wasted Lives understand the pressure they experience from other drivers on the roads and how they explain their reaction to that pressure.
Young drivers described feeling pressured by other drivers to speed up, and they become annoyed or nervous when they experience this type of pressure. They were aware that the speed of other cars on the roads also influences their own choice of speed.
Interviewer: "Anything else affect the speed you travel at?"
Young person: "Other cars."
Young person: "Other people."
Young person:"If you're going slow then people might start overtaking you."
Some drivers admitted feeling self-conscious when they stick to the speed limits.
"My instructor makes me go at 30 and people behind me are like 'oh my god'. And they stare at me when they overtake."
"Nervous, it does make you speed up in a way because you're concentrating on the car behind."
"If it's busy, you start forming a queue behind you and you feel right embarrassed."
They also witness others taking risks and they worry about the consequences of other people's driving behaviour. In this way Wasted Lives has helped them anticipate the consequences of other drivers' behaviour.
"If it's a country road and they're going fast, I always think, what if someone just comes round that corner now, you wouldn't be able to stop."
Peer and parental pressure
This sub-theme describes how young people are subject to conflicting pressure to behave in certain ways by their friends and families in the context of driving or being a passenger.
Young people who attended Wasted Lives realised that they can be influenced to speed by their friends, and that friends in other cars intimidate them whilst they are driving. They have experienced discomfort being a passenger in a drink-drive situation, and they have been scared in situations where novice drivers were competing with each other. Some young people described having felt uncomfortable asking people to slow down and they are concerned about how refusing to get into a car will make them appear in front of their peers. Some young people do not feel that they have any power as a passenger.
"I was in a car the other day and it was a bit scary. He'd only just passed his test so we went out and there ended up being loads of cars and loads of people in the cars and I was dead scared."
"Sometimes you feel if you get out, they might not hang around with you or whatever."
[As a passenger] "you haven't got the power of the pedals or the steering wheel or anything."
The young people believe that their parents are concerned about their safety and talk to them about keeping safe when they are driving. They reported that their parents are concerned about them being caught speeding. Some young people believe that their parents would react angrily to them being involved in a collision and others believe their parents would be upset if this were to happen.
"Cos my mum nags me. Every time I go out of the house - watch the speed cameras."
"My mum would go mad [if I crashed]"
However, not all adults pressure young people to be safer: one young person reported being placed in dangerous driving situations by other adults they know.
"14, I was. I was with one of my mates and his mum and dad are rich and he pulled over down a back road and said 'drive'. I was like 'alright then'."
The experience of Wasted Lives
This theme is presented in three main sections: young people's emotional experience of Wasted Lives; young people's understanding of the Wasted Lives key messages; and the reported effect of Wasted Lives.
Young people's emotional experience of Wasted Lives
This sub-theme explores young people's account of their emotional response to the Wasted Lives intervention.
Young people found the videos and adverts shown to have high levels of impact and described them as more shocking than the ones they usually see on television. They described their emotional response to them in several ways, and the impact on the room when the videos were being shown. The young people found Missing Matthew to be highly emotive and they recalled the emotion expressed by members of the presentation team.
"The videos � the awful videos and the pictures."
"We were nearly crying at that, weren't we."
"I had a lump in my throat. It was horrible."
Young people discussed Wasted Lives with their friends, teachers and families afterwards.
"I told my mum about it."
"I told my boyfriend."
"Yeah actually, I told my parents about wearing the goggles and stuff."
Young people expressed their overall enjoyment of the Wasted Lives session, and they described their enjoyment as being unexpected. Some expressed their initial reluctance to take part in the session and how that initial reluctance was overcome by being shown the videos. They found some content, such as the beer goggles exercise, to be particularly enjoyable. They described the content that concentrated on drink-driving more engaging than the content that focussed on drug driving.
"Yeah, but when someone said, 'you're going to the road safety thing', I was like, 'I can't be bothered, I'd rather not go'. But when we went we really enjoyed it, didn't we?
"No-one wanted to get involved when he was talking but as soon as he put the videos on, that was it. Everyone was good."
"The drugs one I wasn't really bothered, but the drinking, it did grip you."
Young people's understanding of the Wasted Lives key messages
This sub-theme describes how young people understood the Wasted Lives session and interpreted the key messages it contains.
Focus group participants were able to describe the content of the adverts and videos they saw in detail, and were able to identify and describe the behaviours in each advert that led to the collisions. In this way, they were able to make the link between risky driving behaviour and its consequences.
"His mate overtook him, so he tried to overtake him and hit a section in the middle of the road, mounted up and were gone."
Overwhelmingly, the young people felt that shocking material was justified, and indeed necessary to their understanding and acceptance of the messages in the adverts. They felt the shocking content of Wasted Lives had more impact than the fun exercises. They felt the Missing Matthew film made them understand the impact of a fatality on friends, family and the wider community. They discussed how it had resonance because Matthew was a normal person, just like them.
"It's the only way to get the message across."
"Yeah but if you don't show it, they're not going to get the message across."
"Well if it was your family, you wouldn't want them feeling like that would you?"
"It did show what happened when someone died and how it implicates everyone."
"I really thought that story was quite effective because it puts it into perspective. It actually happens to people around you because he went to this college."
"I think it was more 'cos it showed him living a normal life and then it's just one of those things that happens and it's over, isn't it?"
Some young people questioned the authenticity of the content of the adverts, and suggested there should be more content that showed the consequences of the type of smaller-scale risks that people like them might take in their everyday driving, such as pulling out at a junction.
"That was a bit untrue, that one. I couldn't imagine it happening, but it probably could happen."
Focus group participants described the session as comprehensive and most could not think of any improvements to the day. The young people could recall the Risk It, and Fit to Drive sessions in detail and understood the messages conveyed during those sessions.
"The goggles made you feel like you was drunk and I was trying to catch something and my reactions were, not slower, but I couldn't see them. Getting into a car like that, you're obviously going to kill someone�"
"They did the drugs one and you were like stoned and they could tell because he had a chart and they showed you."
"It was fun, but it did make you realise what it is like if you were driving. If you can't walk straight, you obviously can't drive."
"Yeah, it tells how long it takes the alcohol to go away and stuff."
They described in detail the posters they made in the closing session and the slogans they devised for their posters, and the reasons why they chose particular topics to feature in the posters, which was because they wanted to illustrate the most common risks.
"We did two posters: the most important stuff like drugs, drink and stuff like that, and then we had to put them in order. We did that and then we did a poster where we had to design a person and a car and write what they were wearing and stuff like that."
Participants' reports of how Wasted Lives has affected them
This subtheme details the behavioural or attitude changes that focus group participants attributed to the Wasted Lives day.
Focus group participants reported having changed their behaviour in several ways as a result of attending Wasted Lives. Some have changed their opinions about driving the morning after drinking alcohol, others reported changing their behaviour with regard to seat belt use, and taking action to reduce the number of distractions when they are driving. They reported changing their attitude to risk-taking as a result of Wasted Lives. They reported learning messages about speed and when to slow down, and the wider impact of being involved in a collision.
"See I never used to. I used to think 'is anybody else wearing one [a seat belt]?" Whereas now I just put it on."
"Yes, because when I watched it, it made me realise more how important it is to wear a seat belt."
"Like on Saturday, I was scared to drive on Sunday morning after drinking because I don't know if I should have done or not."
[Since Wasted Lives] "I've been more aware of other drivers."
"Yeah, but what's the point in making a mistake by speeding and stuff when you've seen what it can do?"
"It [Wasted Lives] does make you want to driver safer."
Drivers reported driving more safely since the session and taking action to reduce the risks of driving as a result of the session. Young people described the session as making them think about the consequences of risk, and as having high impact at first, but also having a lasting effect.
"Before this, I don't think it really hit home because you don't see the graphic side and you didn't see how many people it affected"
"It's just knocked it into your head. It just shows what you could look like."
"It made you think, and it still does now."
The young people felt that other people would also benefit from Wasted Lives, demonstrating the value they placed on the content and its effectiveness. They reported a desire to experience the session a second time to benefit further from it.
"Yeah, I think they should do it at secondary school and that, because not everyone is going to go to college and get the chance to see it, are they?"
"I liked all of it really. They got everything across what they needed to get across."
"I'd like to go to it again though."
"Yeah, and now I'm glad I went."
The following conclusions can be drawn from the results.
- Taking part in Wasted Lives is associated with a significant decrease in the predictors of risky driving for both males and females and there is evidence that the reduction in risk is maintained three months after Wasted Lives.
- After attending Wasted Lives, young people categorise themselves as less risky in terms of speeding and seat belt use, and their preferred speeds decrease on 30mph, 40mph and motorways, although the reduction in preferred speed is not maintained at three-month follow-up.
- Focus group participants demonstrated extensive knowledge of the risks they faced as a driver and a passenger, and of the actions they can take to reduce their exposure to risks on the roads.
- After Wasted Lives young people demonstrated a good degree of responsibility for the safety of themselves and other road users. This heightened responsibility arises from their greater awareness of the potential consequences of risk taking. This was evident in focus groups that took place several weeks after young people had attended Wasted Lives.
- Whilst young people experienced a range of emotional responses to Wasted Lives, they overwhelmingly considered including high-impact content as being justified and necessary to their understanding of the causes and consequences of collisions.
- Young people reported enjoying Wasted Lives, despite in many cases not expecting to do so. They particularly enjoyed the practical sessions, such as the beer goggles demonstration, and recalled the key messages from these demonstrations. The plenary session, in which participants design their own road safety message was also particularly enjoyed, and young people reported that this made them think in depth about the way in which they behave on the road, and in many cases that the process of discussing driving with their peers changed their attitude towards risky driving.
- Following Wasted Lives participants were more aware of the pressures they experience from other drivers on the roads and from their peers.
- Missing Matthew helped young people understand the wide-reaching impact of a fatality. They could relate to Matthew and what happened to him, and this enabled them to understand the impact that similar event would have on their family. They reported that this understanding would make them think about the consequences of their actions when they are driving or travelling as a passenger.
- In addition to their increased knowledge of risk, young people reported changing their behaviour as a direct consequence of attending Wasted Lives in areas such as seat belt use, driving the morning after drinking alcohol, and reducing the number of distractions in the car.
- Wasted Lives has an immediate effect of making young people more risk averse, and this research provides evidence that this change is maintained three months afterwards.
Christmas S, Young D, Cuerden R. (2008) Road Safety Research Report 98, Strapping Yarns: Why people do and do not wear seat belts. Department for Transport.
King KA, Vidourek RA, Love J, Wegley S, Alles-White M. (2008) Teaching adolescents safe driving and passenger behaviours: Effectiveness of the You Hold the Key Teen Driving Countermeasure. Journal of Safety Research, 39: 19-24.