Message not received - using Behavioural Insights and co-design to reduce road safety risk

In 2019, Birmingham City Council (BCC) identified that a particular area of Birmingham had disproportionately high road accident casualty figures and commissioned So-Mo to investigate and understand the reasons behind high casualty rates and identify a way to reduce these figures in line with BCC’s Road Safety and Action Plan.

An observational study identified that the rate of non-seatbelt use was not only a key contributor to high casualty figures, but that the rate of non-seatbelt use was far greater than anyone had envisaged.

Whilst nationally, the rate of non-use of seatbelts was sitting at around 8% (DfT 2018), locally it was a 38%. A staggering 5x times higher than the national average!

Another key insight was that previous national seatbelt campaigns (considered instrumental in achieving one of the lowest road-casualty-rates in the world), had repeatedly failed to reach and engage people from these communities, resulting in a health-inequality that had remained hidden and unaddressed for many years.

The Road Safety Trust found this work to be of wider national interest and subsequently funded Birmingham City Council and So-Mo to design a solution based on the integration of Behavioural Science and co-design. This required the involvement of the people most impacted by this problem, namely young adults of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian heritage in Birmingham.

This project is approaching the evaluation phase following randomised trials of culturally tailored campaign messages which have been co-designed with a group of young people aged 16-22 from South Asian communities in Birmingham. The results of these trials will be shared during this presentation.

This presentation will provide an understanding of how working in partnership with communities helps to better understand the root causes of road safety risk and by using emerging technologies in digital ethnography, to deliver a programme of work that transforms data into actionable insights that allow you to design meaningful road safety interventions.


Nicola Wass, CEO and Founder, So-Mo 

Nicola Wass is the CEO and Founder of So-Mo Mo. She brings the human perspective to the heart of policy, service, and intervention design.

Her clients include national and local government including Highways England, UK local authorities, Hospital Trusts and global NGOs.

Never afraid to follow paths that seem counter-intuitive, Nicola is valued for her ability to challenge conventional thinking, engaging clients, and contributors as willing partners on the journey.

Her work has featured on: Good Morning Britain, Radio 4 ‘You and Yours’, Wright Stuff, The One Show and also in national newspapers including the Times and the Telegraph.

Dr Holly Hope Smith, Head of Behavioural Science, So-Mo

Holly is So-Mo’s Head of Behavioural Science. As well as a practicing academic at Manchester University, she holds honorary research posts at the Karolinska Institute.

She brings a deep understanding of the theory that underpins nudging and behaviour change methodologies. All her work involves identifying the drivers of change needed to make positive impacts in a real-world setting.

She has published several academic papers including the Lancet and is a regular presenter on the international stage.

Lelde Krumina, So-Mo

Having graduated with Distinctions in Psychology (MSc) from The University of St Andrews and Humanities (MLitt) from the University of Dundee, Lelde has spent three years developing her expertise in the field of behavioural science and psychology through Research Assistant roles within academia and the private sector.

Since joining the So-Mo team, Lelde has taken on the responsibility of coordinating user research activity, moderating mobile ethnography projects and analysing/synthesising research outputs and maintaining regular communications with clients and project partners.