FEATURE30 May 2019

Road testing

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Automotive Behavioural science Features Impact UK

Highways England is increasingly using behavioural insights to gain a clearer understanding of why people drive the way that they do, as it looks to make roads safer. By Katie McQuater


It’s human nature to think that we are better at driving than we actually are. We may know what we are supposed to do to prepare our vehicle before starting out on a long journey – or the right steps to take in the event of breaking down – but the reality may look very different.

Likewise, we don’t tolerate speeding or tailgating by other drivers, but may engage in the same negative behaviours ourselves. “People blame other people. They always say, ‘oh, it was the other person who stopped or braked sharply’, ” says Manjit Galsinh, head of insight at Highways England.

The perception gap between reported and actual behaviour is an issue facing all researchers. For Highways England’s insight team, however, tackling this is imperative to identifying and addressing the biggest misconceptions among drivers – and could, ultimately, help to save lives.

The organisation has recently embarked on a behaviour-change programme, with a particular focus on road safety, as it looks to ...