3. Conducting the national debate

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 safety
  • explore strengths and weaknesses of the potential solutions
  • 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 organisations.

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 representatives

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 (ABI).

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 in-depth information.

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 female group)
  • 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.

Recruitment process

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 Rescue Service.

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.

Screening process

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 re-traumatisation.


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 Scotland.

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 traditional websites.

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.