Road crashes are the leading cause of death amongst 16-25 year olds in the UK.
The reality is that most serious injuries and deaths could have been avoided for want of a small change like wearing a seatbelt, slowing down a bit or not answering that text message.
The Honest Truth is all about challenging the attitudes and behaviours of the next generation of road users as drivers and passengers through effective education.
Animal heads on human bodies… why?
Ten years ago the concept of the animal heads depicting risky driver behaviour was born after discussions within the team about driver behaviour – one of the team members had children that used to chimp around in the back of the car! And so the idea quickly took off…
Animal heads are used to highlight traits within drivers and passengers that might not always be visible to them or others, but which increase their risk of being involved in a crash on the roads. For example, the cheetah represents speeding drivers.
Safety messages are represented by specific animals whose characteristics, either physical or behavioural, are believed to represent one of the key safety messages (e.g. a parrot and mobile phones – parrots speak, and speaking associated with mobile phones). These are paired with a ‘tag line’ with a road safety fact (e.g. ‘Drink stays with you longer than you think’), or an important safety message (e.g. ‘Speed is a limit, not a target).
Evaluation of the animal heads concept
In 2015 The Transport Research Laboratory undertook a study and found that learner drivers who had received The Honest Truth perceived the images of animals as a helpful prompt to remember the road safety messages. The key findings relating to the animal heads concept were:
The learner drivers recalled the majority of the animals. The order of recall was; dog; cheetah; peacock; donkey; parrot; hog; monkey; rhino; chameleon. It may be that the messages behind those animals that were easily remembered may themselves be the most easily remembered. All of the messages associated with the animals were remembered apart from the one associated with the donkey. The learner drivers had to be prompted about the cat. Messages were easier to recall when there was a clear link with the animal. “Possibly it’s like when there’s a direct correlation, so a cheetah you think as being fast, where a peacock you think of it as like being pretty and showing off, because that’s what it does with its tail. I think the ones where it’s a bit obscure wouldn’t come to mind as quickly.” – Female learner
The learner drivers seemed to perceive the images of animals as a helpful prompt to remember the road safety messages.
“It makes you think about, like, being safe more.” – Female learner
“Having pictures of something that you can kind of remember what it looks like, makes you remember the whole thing more, rather than just like a big chunk of text which just kind of goes in one ear and out the other.” – Female learner
Using animals was seen as positive and presented road safety messages in a different way. The stories were also easy to relate to.
“So the honest truth is good, because of all the associations and the taglines that you can just bring up in your lessons.” – Female learner
“The fact that it’s so cheesy makes it work a little bit.” – Male learner
The audience for The Honest Truth was outlined as being for those aged 17-24 years old and learner drivers. There was general agreement among the learner drivers that this is the correct audience for THT messages.
“I definitely think it’s good for, like, new drivers that are young, because when you’re young, like my age, you get…I don’t know, I get really excited, like, at the thought of me being able to drive by myself, like it’ll look cool. So it’s sort of like, I don’t know, just…I think it makes you realise driving is not just driving to look cool. It’s actually really, like dangerous. Lots of people die in car crashes.” – Female learner
It was mentioned that THT may be more effective than people give the materials credit for.
“I think they’re probably more effective than we give them credit for. Like, because often it’s quite a hard thing to measure how effective it is, but a lot of people will look at them and criticise it, like, that’s a bit cheesy, why have they got animals and stuff? But at least then they remember it. So I think that it probably is quite effective.” – Male learner
The main positive factor about THT was the simplicity of the messages and pictures.
“With the animals, they are quite memorable. Simply because they’re almost obscure. You don’t expect, like, people with animal heads. So in that sense, people will remember them, and because of the animals, the message it tries to give.” – Male learner
The cheetah was the most remembered animal. Four learner drivers (three males and one female) mentioned the cheetah. This was followed by the chimp (two females), parrot, donkey and peacock.
“I think the cheetah is probably one of the most recognisable ones, because it’s fast in any case, you’re going to remember that.” – Male learner
“I think the chimp is the most memorable one for me, because it related to everyone in the car, not just the driver.” – Female learner
A number of positive aspects of THT were highlighted.
“I reckon it’s good because like, well, there’s a lot of safety, like, campaigns and that that are around anyway, and like, to use animals, for, like, obviously people of our ages is a good idea.” – Male learner
“The animals are good, because it’s different to any other kind of campaign for safety. And yes, it just makes it a little bit more relatable and easy to remember because you’ve got pictures and associations.” – Female learner