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Roadside posters to improve driving

A road safety campaign displaying roadside posters with 'watching eyes' in key locations, based on insights from behavioural sciences.

First published

Key details

Does it work?
Crime prevention

Stephen O’Connell 

Email address
South East
Community safety partnership
Fire and rescue service
Local authority
Stage of practice
The practice is implemented.
Start date
Scale of initiative
Target group
Children and young people


The aims of this initiative are to:  

  • reduce the number of casualties on the roads

  • improve those driver and rider behaviours that put them and others at risk

  • improve road safety


The Wealden district has one of the worst road safety records in the region. According to one source the district is the fifth most dangerous area for young male drivers. Local and national research points to 'fear of being caught' by the police as a major controlling factor for driving behaviour.

This project involves the use of roadside posters designed using insights from the behavioural sciences. The way messages are presented can have a big influence on our decision-making.

Poster design

The posters include a police officer's eyes indicating to the reader that they may be being watched, to encourage them to behave more virtuously.

The poster also includes other design features that ensure the reader knows that it is a police-related sign. The wording on the first design produced states, 'Check your speed before we do'.

Further posters using the same design principles now address other road safety related behaviours, such as:

  • seatbelt wearing
  • drinking and driving
  • not using mobile phones while driving

Pilot testing

Pilot testing of the posters was extremely encouraging. We are rolling out the project across a much larger area in:

  • locations with a known crash history
  • places of community concern about road safety
  • areas where there are active Speedwatch groups

Required resources

The resources required are:

  • the cost of printing and designing the posters (this project is happy for any force to use our design but the force logo would need changing)
  • finding an agency or organisation to put up the posters in agreed locations – in this case the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service 


The district council is leading the impact evaluation, as part of the community safety partnership. The evaluation is based on before and after measures.

The pilot study involved three parts.

  1. Firstly, we took data from covert roadside monitoring devices used for planning purposes and managed by the County Council. Using this data, we identified stretches of roads in 30mph, 40mph and 50mph areas with a poor record of compliance. Posters were put up either side of the monitoring devices for a period of time. This allowed us to collect data and compare it with the historic data for the site.
  2. Secondly, we put the posters up in two active Speedwatch areas. This allowed us to compare the numbers of vehicles reported for speeding before and after we put up and took down the signs.
  3. Thirdly, we sent out a self-completed questionnaire to assess the effectiveness of the posters. We had more than 1,300 responses.

All three tests provided encouraging results.

Overall impact

It is too early to say what the overall impact of the initiative has been as the posters have only been in place since October 2022. However, the results are encouraging. The communities where the posters are on display seem to like them, as it's a visible way to demonstrate that action is being taken to improve road safety.


The poster locations need to be mapped for maintenance purposes, so they can be cleaned, refreshed and changed on a regular basis.

There also needs to be a degree of enforcement carried out in the areas where the posters are on display, so that road users realise they do not represent an empty threat. Displaying them in areas where there are active Speedwatch groups does overcome this issue. We have had discussions about traffic police using a mobile version of the signs that can be put up when campaigns are in progress.

Best available evidence

Currently, the crime reduction toolkit does not include best-available evidence on the use of roadside posters to improve driving. It does include the best-available evidence on a number of prevention-based interventions to reduce driving-related crime, such as:


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Legal Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The views, information or opinions expressed in this shared practice example are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the College of Policing or the organisations involved.

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