This project of the Traffic Safety Culture Transporation Pooled Fund (TSC-TPF) Program and the Center for Health and Safety Culture sought to better understand how beliefs are formed and changed to inform and develop more effective traffic safety culture strategies that seek to change behaviors. The TSC-TPF has been a leader in advancing research on traffic safety culture, and this project investigated and applied concepts of beliefs and behavior change specifically for use by traffic safety stakeholders.
Since road user behavior is a common factor in traffic crashes, exploring ways to encourage safer traffic behaviors is paramount. Traffic safety culture recognizes that intentional behavior is influenced by the values, beliefs, and attitudes shared among a group of people. Therefore, to change behavior within a group, it is necessary to change beliefs. However, changing beliefs is difficult. The aims of this project were to (1) understand the processes and conditions that influence belief formation and change and (2) provide guidance to safety stakeholders for the design of effective strategies to change traffic safety culture.
From an investigation of the research literature around beliefs and their influence on behavior, 11 recommendations were synthesized for guiding traffic safety practitioners through assessing strategies or countermeasures that seek to change behavior. These 11 recommendations have been compiled into an 11-question strategy assessment for practitioners. Each assessment question includes background information, explanation behind the guidance, and example suggestions.
For a more in-depth look into the research findings on how beliefs are formed, changed, and applied to traffic safety strategies, you can view the project final report here. The traffic safety strategy assessment tool that was created can also be viewed.