Behavioural Change Techniques used in road safety interventions for young people

  • Published: European Review of Applied Psychology, Volume 64, Issue 3, May 2014
  • Authors: F Fylan, S. Stradling
  • Date Added: 12 Feb 2016
  • Last Update: 12 Feb 2016
  • Format: pdf


Behavioural Change Techniques (BCTs) have been successfully deployed to change a range of different health behaviours. This study defines a series of BCTs that can be applied in the road safety setting and asks which ones are found in road safety interventions for young road users?


The authors classified twenty-six techniques identified as used in behavioural change interventions, plus one other adapted from forensic psychology. Common road safety interventions used with pre and young drivers were characterised according to the BCTs they employ.

Key Findings:

  • Death and injury from road traffic is a public health problem worldwide and accordingly there is substantial interest and investment in developing interventions to change road user behaviour.

  • Alongside this, there is growing awareness of the need to evaluate interventions and to identify the most effective mechanisms by which behaviour can be changed. Progress has been hindered due to a lack of a common taxonomy with which to define specific techniques used in attempts to change behaviour.

  • Twenty-seven behavioural change techniques were classified into nine groupings. Six educational road safety interventions commonly used in the UK with pre-drivers and young, novice drivers were characterised in terms of the BCTs they employ.

  • The study found that only a small subset of BCTs are employed in most of the interventions. They concentrate primarily on increasing awareness of the risks associated with a particular behaviour, and the severity of the potential adverse consequences.

  • The study concludes that if road safety interventions are to achieve substantial and sustained change in behaviour they would benefit from being based more clearly on theoretical models of behaviour change and making use of BCTs that are congruent with the target behaviour.

  • Developers of interventions should specify which BCTs they are using in both intervention manuals and evaluation reports. In this way, it will be possible to compile an evidence base on which BCTs achieve effective, long-term change and thereby contribute to reducing road casualties.


Evaluation, Intervention design, Effectiveness.


Strong recommendations