A ground-breaking pilot programme has been carried out in Moldova to see if ‘Speed Awareness’ courses for drivers can have an impact on driving behaviour. The project, supported by the US Embassy in Moldova and EU TRACECA II Road Safety Programme, developed a tailor made course for speed offenders modelled on the UK’s unique National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS). The final stage of the project – training Moldovan drivers – has been a remarkable success, with significant changes in participants’ attitudes towards speeding.
The project began in December 2014 with a study tour by police officials from the Moldovan Video Monitoring Centre who operate the country’s speed camera system. They viewed UK Speed Awareness courses in Kent and were impressed with the impact they made on UK driver behaviour. A further study tour was organised by EASST in April 2015 to learn more about the administration of driver diversion courses linked to traffic offences. The decision was then taken to explore the development of Speed Awareness in Moldova. This proposal was greatly assisted by NDORS, who are governed by the Association of Chief Police Officers in the UK and the Crown Prosecution Service. Their support for the project was essential to its success.
The pilot course in Moldova was designed by Dr Fiona Fylan of Leeds Metropolitan University, the UK’s leading Health Psychologist specialising in road user behaviour. With permission from NDORS, Fiona developed a course tailored to the attitudes of Moldovan drivers. She based her information on a survey of 198 speed offenders in Moldova carried out by the Moldovan police and EASST’s partner, the Automobil Club of Moldova (ACM). The survey found major differences between the attitudes and knowledge of Moldovan speed offenders and UK driver offenders. Moldovans are better at knowing the legal speed limits in different settings. However they are more tolerant of speeding behaviour, tend to think there is little chance of being caught, and believe others in the community would not disapprove of speeding.
From the 20 -22 April Dr Fylan, joined by EASST Director Emma MacLennan, trained nine police and civilian trainers to administer the new Moldovan Speed Awareness Course (including Tatiana Mihailova of the ACM). On the 25 -27 April these trainers trained three groups of Moldovan drivers and speed offenders – a three-hour course that challenged drivers’ beliefs, tested their knowledge and left them with new skills for speed avoidance. In all 30 drivers went through the course. Their attitudes both before and after were measured to assess the course’s impact.
The results were clear: On a scale of 1-9 (with 9 being ‘excellent’), on average course participants rated the training as important (8.5 out of 9); relevant to them (8 out of 9); useful (8.3 out of 9) and interesting (8.2 out of 9). Participants gave an 8 out of 9 rating for the ability of the course to improve community safety, encourage people to speed less often, and create safer drivers in Moldova. After completing the course participants associated significantly fewer positives with speeding, and significantly more negatives. People reported they would find it easier to avoid speeding in future and would speed less often. Most importantly, most participants now reported it was morally wrong to speed – a significant predictor of future speeding behaviour.
The Moldovan Video Monitoring Centre are now preparing draft legislation for enabling Speed Awareness courses to be carried out more extensively in Moldova. It is hoped to be able to run a more extensive pilot linked to speed enforcement, and to develop the framework for linking course participation to penalty points on drivers’ licences (with points waived for those successfully completing the course as in the UK).
This pilot could not have taken place without the active involvement of the Moldovan Police, in particular the Director and staff of the Video Monitoring Centre. The ACM also played a key organisational role and helped carry out the survey of Moldovan motorists. We are grateful to the US Embassy in Moldova for assisting with the costs of this pilot, to the EU TRACECA II programme for their support, and to the police and civilian volunteers who underwent training. We would like to thank the UK NDORS programme, and specifically Ian Aspinall and Jerry Moore of the Board of NDORS, for their tremendous generosity in sharing their expertise. Finally, we are indebted Dr Fiona Fylan for bringing her skills to the project and making it such a success.
Speed Awareness Course in Moldova
This report covers EASST‘s work with the UK’s National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) to deliver a pilot Speed Awareness Course in Moldova. This was the first time that NDORS has approved delivery of its courses outside the UK.