Title: Comparison of Driver Alertness and the National Driver Improvement Scheme

Organisation: ACPO
Date uploaded: 6th August 2010
Date published/launched: June 2010

The Driver Alertness Course is a retraining scheme for drivers who have been driving without due care and attention. This report describes the results of a pilot outcome evaluation which provides an indication of the effectiveness of the course.

The Driver Alertness Course (DAC) is a one-day offender retraining scheme for drivers who have been driving without due care and attention or without consideration for other road users.

The course has been adapted from the National Driver Improvement Scheme by the strategic board for course development: Dr Fiona Fylan (Brainbox Research); Dr Helen Middleton (Sunderland University); and Professor Steve Stradling (Edinburgh Napier University).

This report describes the results of a pilot outcome evaluation, which provides an indication of the relative effectiveness of the DAC and the National Driver Improvement Scheme (NDIS) and to develop methodology for a future larger-scale evaluation.

We also describe our process evaluation, which explores providersí experiences of delivering the new course, and makes recommendations on how to improve the course delivery.

Data were collected from three consecutive courses run in the participating sites during the data collection period, from November 2009 to February 2010. A total of 751 clients took part in the research: 378 from DAC and 373 from NDIS. Clients completed three questionnaires: one before the course; one after the course; and a follow-up questionnaire two months after the course. A response rate of 29% was achieved at follow up, which represents a very good response rate and gives us confidence that our findings are valid.

The research provides evidence that both courses have produced positive changes in attitudes, confidence to drive safely, and intentions to drive safely in the future. At follow-up 99% of clients reported that they had changed their driving: 22% that their driving had changed a great deal and over 40% that it had changed quite a lot.

Clients described how the information and knowledge gained has raised their awareness of the hazards they should be looking out for on the road, and has made them more cautious drivers. They are now better able to anticipate how other road users may behave, and they are more aware of the importance of safe driving. While this is self-reported data, and may not accurately reflect actual driver behaviour, some clients noted that their passengers had commented on how much their driving had improved, suggesting that for at least some drivers there have been real changes in their driving.

Over half of the clients gave permission for their driving records to be checked in the future to find out if they have received licence points or course invitations since the course. This will provide an additional objective measure of changes in driver behaviour.

There are very few statistically significant differences in changes produced by the two different types of course. We conclude that DAC achieves the same benefits as NDIS but in a shorter time period. Clients report a one-day course as more acceptable than a one-and-a-half-day course, so DAC may have a greater uptake rate than NDIS.

There is limited evidence that the course is more effective in drivers than in riders, which suggests that RIDE should be considered as the diversionary course of choice for motorcyclists.

Based on feedback from the providers we have made several recommendations as to how the delivery should be improved. This includes shortening the final session and providing a clearer framework for the in-car elements of the course.

For more information contact:
Fiona Fylan
T: 0113 238 0157

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