The ‘Culture’ You Come From Can Radically Affect Your Safety on the Road

August 22, 2018

In 2007, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published an excellent book which since then has been one of our key “go to” resources for valuable guidelines.  Its title was: Improving Traffic Safety Culture in the United States — The Journey Forward  [See footnote for a relevant excerpt].

There can be no doubt that geographical, political, socio-economic and — importantly — workplace aspects of culture have a major influence  on road safety, and this can be seen not only from one country to another but often from region to region within a country.

Equally, there can be no doubt that traffic safety interventions which fail to consider and adapt to relevant aspects of local cultures are commonly doomed to failure.

Traffic safety culture affects many aspects of highway safety, including road users’ attitudes to various unsafe or illegal actions.

Photo of driver usings a hand-held cell phone at the wheel.
Not only using a hand-held cell phone while driving but also at an intersection and with an arm across the driver’s airbag due to one-handed steering. So a collision is more likely and so are greater injuries. (Copyright image, 2017.)

A much more general but still relevant review of the overall subject has just been published (August 2018) under the title:  Culture may affect the way your brain processes everything. Here’s why that’s important, by Dr Belinda Liddell.  Of particular interest, and something which significantly affects road safety, is an explanation of the difference in attitudes between Western countries and MENA (Middle-East and North Africa) countries.

At Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc., this is an aspect of our work that we have always taken very seriously indeed and we have always been strongly guided by our extensive library and the research literature available to us, as well as authoring academic-peer-reviewed research papers ourselves, through bodies such as the Society of Automotive Engineers [view here] and the International Road Federation [view here].

More details are available regarding our best-practice compliant defensive  driving and advanced driver safety courses, and these can be held anywhere in the USA or Canada for your personnel, at the level of training and safety you select.


Footnote (added on August 23, 2018)

Robert Foss writes: ‘Shifting program and policy development away from a “shoot from the hip commonsense” based orientation to a theoretically grounded approach is not an easy assignment. Scholars and researchers in the social and behavioral science fields have not done a good job of translating their fundamental understanding — which, though less than perfect, is substantial — into usable guidelines for practitioners…. The unfortunate, but not surprising result is that those who develop programs, policies, and laws rarely know there is a substantial knowledge base upon which they might draw…‘ Foss R. 2007. Addressing behavioral elements in traffic safety: A recommended approach. In Improving traffic safety culture in the U.S.: The journey forward. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.


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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

One thought on “The ‘Culture’ You Come From Can Radically Affect Your Safety on the Road”

  1. In our ‘Road Safety International’ group, on Facebook, Jim Cooper very appropriately asks:
    “Has anyone attempted to apply this discipline to a) the driving task, b) how road users perceive dangers on the road c) public/societies’ leaders/road users attitude to road safety policies and rules.”

    My replies to the three parts of the question are:
    (a) As implied, Jim, at Advanced Drivers of North America, I work hard to attune our training courses to U.S. culture and attitudes and I have effectively been developing and refining this approach for about 15 years, especially in relation to best-practice techniques and attitudes imported from other countries and cultures. However, I know of no other training suppliers who are taking this approach.

    (b) I would have to say that 11 years on from the publication of the 378-page book in question, far too little seems to have changed at Federal and State governmental levels so it is hard to be positive in this reply. However, one aspect which has improved in my years here relates to the issue of better adverts and video clips to publicise dangers and increase awareness among the public. Initially, I found that I was continually debating with the-powers-that-be about the mediocrity and low volume of such campaigns, especially the video clips which are referred to here as Public Service Announcements [PSA]. Many officials very firmly assured me that they were not used in America because they were ‘ineffective.’ My response was to state this was strange because they certainly worked well elsewhere, particularly when combined with effective law enforcement. In more recent years, however, the volume and quality of such adverts delightfully has improved significantly.

    (c) The four categories you stipulate within this part of the question make a full answer impossible because of length, but suffice it to say that the AAA Foundation book does address your important issues from several different perspectives, although by no means always in the positive manner we might like.

    I hope this reply does at least partially answer your questions.

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