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The relevancy of ‘mates don’t let mates…’ as a key strategy for a school curriculum based road safety program.

Buckley, L, Sheehan, M (Peer reviewed)

Road Safety Programs

ACRS conference 2008

Study objectives Among the leading causes of adolescent injuries are transport-related factors. School-based curriculum programs are a commonly used method to reduce such injury and these are typically focused on targeting change in known risk and protective factors particularly alcohol use. Another commonly identified risk factor for adolescent risk-taking is adolescents’ relationship with, and the influence of, their peers. The program evaluated in this paper however sought to explicate an alternative role of peers as a protective factor. The program, Skills for Preventing Injury in Youth (SPIY) was an eight lesson curriculum integrated program that has previously demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing road-related risktaking behaviours. The aim of this paper is to provide a better understanding of some of the possible mechanisms of change for SPIY participants and in particular peer intervening behaviour.

Methods used & sources of data/ information Qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to understand adolescent perceptions of protecting and to evaluate change in motivation to protect. Focus groups with adolescents were used to provide a greater depth of understanding regarding intervening in friends’ roadrelated risk-taking and their motivation to do so. The quantitative component included an evaluation of the effectiveness of SPIY in increasing motivation to intervene. This component of the trial involved 230 intervention and 157 control students completing baseline and sixmonth follow-up surveys.

Results & Conclusions There was no significant difference between groups on motivation toward protecting their mates from road-related risk-taking. The qualitative data showed that this was a complex issue with multiple considerations affecting intervening behaviour including confidence regarding protection and the context of the risk situation. In sum, it appears that the program based on encouraging protective intervening to improve adolescent road safety can increase motivation to do so and that the issue of mates looking out for mates is a complicated yet relevant road safety strategy for adolescents.