Every day, emergency services from across the country, including police, fire and ambulance, attend road accidents. According to Department for Transport provisional estimates, there were 1,700 road deaths in the UK for the year ending June 2015.


The fatal four

In an effort to change driver behaviour and reduce the number of road traffic casualties on UK roads, the “four biggest dangers whilst driving” have been identified as the ‘fatal four’.

These fatal four most common causes of accidents are:

    1. Inappropriate speed
      According to THINK!, the difference of a few miles per hour can mean the difference between life and death. They urge drivers to remember that the speed limit is not a target, and that you should drive at a speed that suits the conditions and the type of road. For example, if it’s foggy or raining, then driving at the speed limit could be too fast. Learn more about speeding in our blog post. Make sure that you’re driving at a safe speed at all times, and never exceed the speed limit.
    2. Using a mobile phone while driving
      Using a mobile phone at the wheel can be very dangerous – it can take just a moment’s distraction by a call or text to cause a crash. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s also illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving, or even while stopped with the engine on. Gov.uk advise that you can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if you’re caught using a phone while driving, with three points added to your licence. You can even be prosecuted for using a hands-free device if you’re not in proper control of your car.Find out more about the dangers of texting while driving.
    3. Not wearing a seatbelt
      THINK! advise that you’re twice as likely to die in a crash if you don’t wear a seatbelt. Young drivers, aged between 17-34, have the lowest seat belt-wearing rates combined with the highest accident rate. There is an easy way to avoid this danger – always remember to put on your seatbelt before you drive. Find out more about how wearing your seatbelt correctly can help save lives.
    4. Drink/drug driving
      According to Drink Aware, many of the functions that we depend on to drive safely are affected when we drink alcohol. When you drink, it takes longer for your brain to receive messages from your eye, and processing information becomes more difficult. All of these can significantly impact your driving. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so it’s always advisable to avoid drinking and drugs entirely if you know you have to drive. Read about the dangers of drink driving and drug driving.


Project Pictogram

In recent months, a new road safety initiative has been launched in the UK, in a bid to raise awareness around these most common causes of road traffic accidents.

The campaign, named ‘Project Pictogram’, is backed by a wide range of road safety professionals including: Road Safety GB, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Association of British Insurers and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service. It is designed to highlight the dangers of the ‘fatal four’ by encouraging UK companies and vehicle fleets to use an industry standard set of vehicle stickers.

The stickers are based on the British road sign system, and car drivers are also being encouraged to apply the stickers in order to act as a reminder to motorists to drive safely. A fifth symbol has been added to warn drivers to keep to a safe following distance.

The stickers look like this:

No drink or drugs sticker       No phone sticker       Stopping distance sticker Speeding sticker       Seat belt sticker


Indirect suggestions

According to Road Safety GB, the campaign is based around the idea that these subtle, indirect messages can have the power to influence driver behaviour on a large scale.

“The psychology which underpins Project Pictogram, ‘nudge’ theory, is the widely acknowledged behavioural science concept that subtle, indirect suggestions can influence motives and change behaviours on a large scale,” said Phil Palfrey, new product development manager with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service. “These frequent, near subliminal-level reminders of safe driving will, over time, influence driver behaviour habits towards safer practices.

“Driving is a herd activity, with individuals typically aligning to the social norms of the group around them. By positively influencing large sections of the herd around these key risk-reducing priorities, the wider group is likely to conform to the new safer practices being displayed.”


Building awareness

The key to the success of this campaign is to get as many cars as possible displaying the stickers, in order to get them seen by as many people as possible.

It is hoped that the stickers could be used in advertising and promotional materials produced in a range of different sectors, such as car insurance, leisure and tourism. This could mean having the symbols on drinks packaging bought from coffee shops and at motorway services, with other suggestions being for the graphics to be included on sat nav screens.

Full details of Project Pictogram, as well as artwork for the stickers, are available to download free of charge from the project website.