Will they ‘Look out for Laura’? Evaluating a video-based designed to improve attitudes towards horse riders and cyclists

Previous safety campaigns have attempted to change future road-user behaviour towards vulnerable road users by increasing empathy with these out-groups (e.g., Think Bike. Think Biker!). The British Horse Society and Cycling UK designed and produced four short films to show the real people that ride both horses and bicycles (‘Look out for Laura’).

Using a pre-post experimental design, with suitable control groups, we examined whether these videos had an immediate effect on drivers’ attitudes, and potential future behaviours towards horse riders and cyclists. An Implicit Attitude Test did not reveal any changes in our intervention groups, though answers to explicit attitudinal questions did improve. Attitudes towards horse riders improved if they had seen the horse rider videos, and attitudes towards cyclists improved in those participants who had seen the cycling videos.

The beneficial effects of the videos did not transfer however between our categories of vulnerable road users (i.e., watching the horse videos did not improve attitudes towards cyclists, and vice versa). The specificity of this effect argues against a social desirability confound in the data.

The videos also increased the passing distance that drivers were willing to give horses and cyclists, and reduced intended passing speeds. Despite these improvements in specific attitudes, most participants did not recognise that their attitudes had improved. This demonstrates that the empathic video approach can influence attitudes without drivers realising this to be the case.

David Crundall, Professor of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University

David Crundall is a professor of psychology at Nottingham Trent University, specialising in traffic and transport psychology.

He gained his PhD in 1999 investigating eye movements in novice drivers and has since published over 100 academic papers and book chapters in the field. He has conducted research on a wide range of driving-safety topics, working with the Department for Transport, the DVSA, EPSRC, ESRC, the Road Safety Trust, The RAC Foundation, and many corporate customers.

He is a member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (Road User Working Group), the International Association of Applied Psychologists, and Transport Psychology International.