Making the roads safer by developing interventions of offender motorists

Submitting Institution

Leeds Metropolitan University

Unit of Assessment

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology

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Summary of the impact

Fylan is the lead academic on the police National Strategic Development Board for offender driver interventions and her research underpins the national strategy on driver offender retraining. The courses she has developed or evaluated, such as the National Speed Awareness Course, are offered by all 43 police forces in the UK and around a million drivers attend them each year. Speed courses have contributed to a 40% reduction in speeding offences since 2005, which could help to reduce the number of people (over 200,000) who are injured in the UK each year in road traffic collisions (RTCs).

Underpinning research

Fylan (Reader in Psychology) led the research team that produced a milestone piece of research for the Department for Transport in 2006 (Fylan et al., 2006a/b). This collaborative project with Connor, Lawton (Leeds) Grunfeld (Birmingham) and Hempel (York) established the components that road safety interventions should include to increase their effectiveness. A systematic review of the driving literature identified four different subgroups of speeding drivers. A further systematic review of the evidence on behavioural change interventions identified the theoretical framework and content to include in an effective behavioural change intervention targeted at speeding drivers. The project also reported on deliberative research with academics and stakeholders to identify barriers and facilitators to delivering these courses. This project was the first to apply health psychology research and theory to produce practical guidance on how to develop effective interventions for offender drivers. This research is now considered best practice when designing courses for offender motorists. While this research was conducted while Fylan was at the University of York, on joining Leeds Met in 2006 she began working with road safety professionals to establish how the research could be applied in a road safety setting. Hence the impact achieved has come about through her work at Leeds Met.

Fylan subsequently (2007-2011) conducted several further research studies at Leeds Met that have provided key insights into changing road user behaviour, including an evaluation of the National Ride Scheme for motorbike riders (Fylan et al., 2010; Burgess et al., 2010), the National Driver Alertness Course, and the National Speed Awareness Course for car drivers (Fylan et al., 2011). This work established the effectiveness of these schemes. The latter made use of quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how these effects are achieved (Fylan et al., submitted) i.e. by providing information that challenges drivers' attitudes towards speeding, persuading them that there is a reason why speed limits are set at a particular level and by convincing them that the driving environment is more hazardous than they had appreciated. The course gives motorists knowledge of how to improve their driving and increased self-efficacy to identify and drive within the speed limit. They gain greater insight into their own driving, including the pressures that they face whilst driving, and the limits to their own knowledge. The insights produced by this research has informed all subsequent offender driver course development.

From 2011-2013 Dr Fylan has built on work on behaviour change in the wider health psychology community and has grouped and defined 27 behavioural change techniques (BCTs) that can be used in interventions to change road user behaviour (Fylan and Stradling, in press). She has mapped several different interventions against these techniques and identified that only a very small subset is commonly used. Interventions delivered to school and college students typically only use BCTs relating to giving information. BCTs around supporting and managing change are very rarely utilised. This work has had a major impact on the way in which interventions to road users are developed and described.

References to the research

[1] Fylan F, Hempel S, Grunfeld EA, Connor M, Lawton R. (2006a) Research Report 66: Effective Interventions for Speeding Motorists. London: Department for Transport. (Government research report) — Available from Institution.

This is the final report from the research project (DfT research grant to Fylan (PI at York) and Connor (PI at Leeds), 2005-2006, £120k. The report was peer reviewed before publication (by Professor Susan Michie and Professor Anthony Manstead) and it is now considered the most influential piece of offender motorist research for road safety professionals.

[2] Fylan F, Hempel S, Grunfeld EA, Connor M, Lawton R. (2006b) Evidence-based behavioural change for speeding drivers. Peer-reviewed paper in conference proceedings. Behavioural Research in Road Safety,

This was research presented at the DfT's seminar programme, which is an invitation-only event that showcases the most important road safety research funded by the DfT over the year.

[3] Fylan F, Burgess C, Broughton P, Stradling S. (2010) Effectiveness of the National RIDE Scheme. Leeds Metropolitan University research report. (Research report produced for the Association of Chief Police Officers) — Available from Institution.

This is the final report of an ACPO research project (grant to Fylan (PI), Broughton (Napier), Burgess (Exeter), Stradling (Napier), 2009-2010, £50k.

[4] Burgess, C., Broughton, P., Fylan, F. (2010) Stradling, S. Interim evaluation of the UK's National RIDE scheme (2010). In Dorn., L (Ed.) Driver Behaviour and Training Volume IV. Ashgate, pp 161-178 (Peer-reviewed conference paper) — Available from Institution.

[5] Fylan F, Fylan EMM, Caveney L, Scott H, Stradling S. (2011) Evaluation of the National Speed Awareness Course. ACPO Research Report.

This publication led to NDORS driver offender courses winning the most prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award: the Premier Award
( Fylan's work underpinned this achievement (a statement from NDORS can be supplied if required).

Details of the impact

Fylan's role as principal investigator on the research team that produced the Effective Interventions for Speeding Motorists report for the Department for Transport in 2006 led to invitations to present at several different forums, including the Association of Chief Police Officers (2007), the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety (2008), the National Association of Driver Intervention Providers annual meetings (2008, 2009), and the Road Safety GB annual conference (2008). Her subsequent work on specific driver offender interventions led to invitations to speak at both national and international police forums, e.g. the Police Federation Annual Conference (2010), and TISPOL (European road policing) (2013). She provided research input into several different local authority road safety teams (including Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Durham County Councils, and Greater Manchester Joint Road Safety Team), specifically around the psychological constructs underpinning behavioural decision making, using this information to provide driver behavioural change programmes, and evaluation methodology. Her input helped road safety teams across the UK to understand the theoretical frameworks they can use to develop road safety interventions for pedestrians and motorists, and the advantages and disadvantages of different evaluation methodologies. Her input therefore directly led to an increase in the quality of the evidence base around road safety (for example, research she has advised on can be viewed on the Road Safety GB Knowledge Centre ( She has disseminated this research in various forums, including during invited presentations at several different road safety professional conferences, such as the RosPA annual seminar (2011), the Brake International Road Safety Forum (2011), the annual Road Safety Scotland seminar (2011) (,d.d2k) and the PACTS conference on educational alternatives to prosecution for driver offenders (

Fylan's research on speeding motorists led directly, in 2007, to the formation of a steering group with the remit of agreeing the content and delivery method of a National Speed Awareness Course; Fylan was the academic adviser to this group and identified the psychological constructs that should be addressed in these courses ( In 2009 the National Strategic Course Development Board was set up, which has responsibility for using research evidence to advise on driver offender management policies and to develop interventions to change driver offender behaviour. As the lead academic on this board Fylan has made policy recommendations about course content and delivery, and has developed driver and rider intervention specifications for several different national courses:

  • The National Speed Awareness Course (2008) is aimed at speeding motorists.
  • The National RIDE Scheme (2009) is aimed at motorbike riders who have been involved in a collision or who have committed an offence.
  • The National Driver Alert Scheme (2010) is aimed at motorists who have been involved in a collision and who have been driving at a standard below what would be expected of a careful driver.
  • The National Your Belt Your Life Course (2012) is aimed at drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts.
  • The National Driving 4 Change Course (2012) is aimed at motorists whose lack of skills resulted in an offence.
  • The National What's Driving Us Course (2012) is aimed at motorists whose attitudes resulted in an offence.

Fylan's work has been cited by the UK Transport Minster, Mike Penning (e.g. Jan 2011) and by the Road Safety Lead in ACPO, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport in their statements on dealing with offender motorists (`There is a report that has been done that looks at the national driver offender retraining schemes-NDORS. That has not been released yet, but that is very positive in terms of the impact. It is hugely positive' —

Promoting the uptake of these courses have been included in the Department for Transport Strategic Framework for Road Safety (2011, 2012):


Fylan's work has also been influential in policy decisions internationally, and she has been consulted by key government personnel, for example by the Australian Office of Road Safety, when exploring how to apply the UK model of driver interventions in their own countries (e.g. research report AP-T134/09, Development of a Best Practice Intervention Model for Recidivist Speeding Offenders,

The beneficiaries of this research are therefore:

  • The police, who have an evidence-based policy for handling offender drivers.
  • Road safety professionals, who have benefited from direct advice and/or access to presentations made by Dr Fylan.
  • Offender drivers, who can choose to attend an evidence-based intervention to address their driving behaviour, rather than receive a fine and licence penalty points. The courses have contributed to a reduction in speeding offences.
  • Road users more generally, who benefit from safer road environments.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  • National Driving Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS), Scheme Manager has provided the following statement:
  • "Dr Fylan's research has ensured that the courses the police offer for offender motorists are grounded in evidence of how best to change road user behaviour. Her research has been essential to the successful development of these courses. The courses are linked to a reduction in risky driving and therefore contribute to reduced casualties on our roads. She works collaboratively with us to meet the continuing needs of the UK police force and advise on how we can use the evidence from her own research and that of others to produce innovative ways of tackling unsafe driver and rider behaviour."

  • National Association of Driver Intervention Providers (NADIP), Chair (
  • Road Safety GB, Chair

Conference Papers

  • Fylan F, Fylan EMM, Caveney L (2012) Supporting long-term changes in driver behaviour. BPS Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference — Available from Institution.
  • Fylan F, Fylan EMM, Caveney L. (2011) Behavioural Change Techniques used in road safety schemes for young people. RoSPA Annual Seminar.
  • Fylan F, Fylan EMM, Caveney L, Behavioural Change Techniques used in road safety interventions. 2011 Brake Road Safety International Congress.
  • Fylan F, Stradling S, Fylan EMM. (2010). Driver Alert: A theory-based intervention to change driver behaviour. BPS Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference — Available from Institution.


Mitchell CGB. Speed and Safety: evidence from published data. RAC Foundation and PACTS Research Report, 2012. (Mitchell suggests that one reason for a drop in speed offences is speed awareness courses).