3. Conducting the national debate
3.1 Overall approach
The national debate was undertaken using a range of engagement
approaches including a brainstorming session, semi- structured
interviews with representatives from the road safety community,
focus groups with young people (aged 17 to 25 years) and parents
and carers, and an online survey.
The variety of approaches helped to capture a wide range of
views from across the stakeholder groups, but also to explore these
in depth with young people (drivers and non- drivers), parents and
carers, road safety organisations, transport organisations, the
business community as well as other members of the public.
This chapter sets out the different approaches in more detail.
It also describes the broad intervention types which participants
were asked to provide feedback on.
3.2 Internal brainstorm
An internal brainstorm exercise with Atkins ‘Road Safety
Working Group’ (consultants specialising in road safety) and
relevant colleagues of the study team was undertaken to:
- identify potential solutions for improving young driver
- explore strengths and weaknesses of the potential
- identify case study examples, and
- discuss potential questions to be addressed in the debate.
3.3 General stakeholder engagement
A briefing note was sent out to 40 key stakeholders inviting
written responses to key research questions identified through the
literature review and the brainstorm. Stakeholders included road
safety organisations, emergency services and transport
Responses were received from eight organisations; however, other
organisations opted to contribute to the debate through other
methods such as the online survey.
3.4 Semi- structured interviews with road safety
Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with representatives
from Transport Scotland, Road Safety Scotland, Royal Society for
the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Institute for Road Safety
Professionals (IRSO), Association of Chief Police Officers in
Scotland (ACPOS), the Fire and Rescue Service, the Institute of
Advanced Motorists (IAM), and the Association of British Insurers
A framework of themes was developed for the interviews, but the
structure was flexible, allowing new questions to be asked during
the interview in response to what the interviewee had to say result
of what the interviewee had to say. Interviews were undertaken
face-to-face or by telephone where practical. This method provided
3.5 Focus groups
The primary means for in-depth engagement with young people
(aged 17 to 25 years) was through a number of focus groups. In
total thirteen focus groups (each consisting of between five and
eight participants) were undertaken in December 2010 with:
- pupils aged 17 years from a secondary school in Anstruther,
Fife (one male and one female group)
- apprentices/trainees attending Borders Technical College (two
male and one female group)
- students from the University of Aberdeen (one male and one
- workers aged 17 to 25 years, from a number of companies who
drive for work in Strathclyde (one male and one mixed group)
- young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) in
Edinburgh (one mixed group)
- call centre workers in Edinburgh (one mixed group with 21 to 25
year olds), and
- low income workers in the Highlands (one mixed group with 17 to
20 year olds and one mixed group with 21 to 25 year olds).
A separate focus group was also undertaken with eight parents
and carers in Strathclyde.
The composition of the groups reflected casualty rates amongst
young people with a bias towards male drivers and with specific
focus on van drivers who drive for work.
The different locations and target groups ensured that
participants included a range of driver types in terms of age and
experience. Where possible, separate focus groups for male and
female participants were undertaken as experience has demonstrated
that young people, in particular females, engage in discussion more
freely in single sex groups.
A total of 92 people participated in the focus groups.
The majority of focus groups participants were recruited in
advance of the day the focus group was undertaken. The approach to
recruitment differed depending on the focus group.
For the focus groups at the school, technical college and
university a number of suitable establishments were contacted via
telephone and/ or email and the chosen three were selected due to
geographical location, availability to host a focus group and
interest from the establishment.
The young workers (call centre, low income and young driver
workers) were also recruited prior to the event but this time by
promoting the event via the road safety and business communities. E
posters and flyers as well as other literature were sent out via
these networks, and to large employers including hospitals, call
centres and hotels. Young people were then asked to contact the
study team to confirm firstly if they were eligible to participate
and then their attendance.
In attempting to recruit focus group participants who regularly
drive at work the study team found that many companies with a
strong focus on driving (e.g. couriers) require drivers to have a
certain amount of driving experience. This effectively excludes
most under 25 year olds.
Participants for groups involving young people not in
employment, education or training (NEETs) were recruited from a
young driver group for NEETs run by Lothian and Borders Fire and
Parents and carers were recruited via engagement with the
business community and in particular with certain companies who had
been contacted for the young drivers’ focus groups and showed
a keen interest in getting involved.
All potential participants were asked a number of questions
prior to the event to ensure that the final group included
individuals from different backgrounds and different levels of
driving experience, including non-drivers. The questions also
determined whether or not individuals had penalty points on their
driving licence, or had experience of a road traffic collision
(personally or involving a family friend or relative). Potential
participants who had experience of a collision were spoken to
individually, to ensure that they understood the focus of the
discussion, and to ensure that there was no risk of
All focus group participants were paid £20. This
was for travel and subsistence but also to encourage participation
and to reflect the importance of the debate.
Format of focus groups
The focus groups were designed to be enjoyable, interactive and
to encourage the participants have their say about what solutions
could make a difference to the road safety problem. Each focus
group lasted between an hour and 90 minutes. The topic guide for
the focus group discussions is presented in Appendix B.
The groups were recorded using audio equipment to enable
detailed analysis at a later date. Facilitators also took notes and
recorded any significant gestures or behaviours.
A pilot focus group was undertaken to ensure that the structure
and questions was appropriate for the debate.
3.6 Online survey
At the same time a questionnaire survey was advertised online.
The survey could be accessed by members of the public and the wider
road safety community via a dedicated Facebook page or via links on
various websites including universities, colleges, hospitals and
websites associated with youth organisations, such as the Youth
Parliament and Young Farmers Association.
The survey method allowed for a wide sample of opinions to be
canvassed. Results are quantified which is useful when undertaking
the assessment of proposals.
Responses were received from 108 young males (17 to 25 years),
152 young females (17 to 25 years) and 352 over 25 year olds. In
the interests of inclusivity, all adults over the age of 25 were
invited to respond. Thirty one responses were received from adults
who do not have children and these people are classed as
‘others’ and their views have been included with those
of parents and carers. This group is referred to as ‘parents,
carers and others’ from this point forward.
The responses received may not necessarily be representative of
the views of all young people, parents and carers, and others in
The survey questionnaire is presented in Appendix C and a
summary of responses is provided in Appendix D.
3.7 Dedicated ‘Facebook’ page
Facebook is a social networking site which enables people to
form virtual networks and connect with groups of friends to share
information. A dedicated Facebook page was set up to reach young
adults and teenagers who might not be reached through the more
The page introduced the study, providing headline statistics on
young driver accidents, a summary of the debate aims and a link to
the online questionnaire. Regular ‘posts’ were written
including questions on the debate; a summary of views and reminders
of the consultation deadline.
The page was linked to other road safety organisations as well
as youth organisations. Although there were no specific posts on
the ‘wall’ there were around 150 hits to the page.