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An evaluation of behavior-based interventions to increase safe driving.

Geller ES; Clarke SW; Ludwig TD
NIOSH 2003 Feb; :1-70
The primary aim of this two-year project was to assess the relative effectiveness of specific behavior-focused interventions designed to increase safe driving. The following safe driving interventions were evaluated: a) a policy statement mandating turn-signal use, b) a community-based program that involved pizza delivery employees as intervention agents promoting safety-belt use among their customers, c) a comparison of participatory vs. assigned goal-setting, d) the addition of individual feedback to a group goal-setting and feedback intervention, e) the addition of extrinsic rewards to an individual feedback intervention, and f) a safety self-management program for short-haul truckers. All studies included control sites and used multiple baseline designs, staggering the introduction of interventions at different sites to show functional control of the target behavior. Overall, the result of these studies indicate that a wide variety of behavior-based safety interventions can be used to decrease at-risk driving in organizational settings. With the exception of the policy intervention targeting turn-signal use, all of the interventions investigated showed significant improvement in the various driving behaviors targeted, including safety-belt use, turn-signal use, and complete stops. The research supported various predictions made from: a) the Multiple Intervention Level (MIL) model (Geller, 1998a; Geller et al., 1990), and b) response generalization (Bandura, 1969; Carr, 1988). With regard to the MIL model, research findings indicate that as an intervention becomes more individual focused in its operation, the likelihood of behavior change increases. For example, while a group goal-setting/feedback intervention resulted in substantial increases in turn-signal use, the addition of publicly posted individual feedback resulted in further increases in turn-signal use. In addition, the more intrusive interventions resulted in greater amounts of response generalization,- or improvement in nontargeted safe driving behaviors. Response generalization was demonstrated in most of the studies, with as much as 53% increases over baseline for nontargeted behaviors. In general, studies which relied on extrinsic control without soliciting involvement (i.e., policy and assigned goal-setting) showed either no change or decreases in nontargeted safe driving behaviors, suggesting reactance against the overt controlling operations. It is also notable that those interventions with a large amount of intrinsic control (as in participative goal-setting) and social support showed the greatest amount of long term maintenance of behavior change in targeted behaviors and the most generalization to nontargeted behaviors. Response generalization seems to be a special benefit of programs that facilitated employee participation (or empowerment) in the design, development, and implementation of the intervention. Thus, while "top-down" safety interventions (such as disincentive programs and assigned goal-setting) may improve the targeted behaviors, they can have a detrimental effect on nontargeted safety-related behaviors. As a result, behavior-based safety programs which do not involve employees in the design and/or implementation of the program may not result in an overall reduction in vehicle crashes and resulting injuries.
Behavior; Behavior-patterns; Safety-belts; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Drivers; Occupational-safety-programs
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Psychology, Center for Applied Behavior Systems, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0436
Publication Date
Document Type
Final Grant Report
Email Address
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches; Intervention Effectiveness Research
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Psychology, Center for Applied Behavior Systems, Blacksburg, Virginia
Page last reviewed: January 29, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division