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Doug Hamilton

What do you make of this?

Concentrology has been quiet for a few months. No especial reason for that other than the usual excuses – it’s hectic out there, pressures of business life, you get the picture. Anyways, here we are back on the ether again.

And, lots has been happening – so therefore, lots of material for future Concentrologies. (Why does Microsoft Word want to correct the grammar on that last sentence?)

One of the nuggets I came across recently was this article – many thanks to John Knight for forwarding it to me. For those of you who are offline or who can’t be bothered to look it up, it shows a 3D hologram of a small girl running out into a road to chase a ball. The intention is that the hologram is projected onto the road in front of speeding drivers, to alter them of possible dangerous situations.

As with all such attempts at influencing behaviour, we have to ask ‘what will it actually achieve?’ On the one hand, we can say that it will help to engender a sense of unease at every possible risk, ready to surprise the driver with the worst of possible consequences. 

But hang on – is that a good thing? ‘Yes!’ bellow some safety professionals and campaigners, ‘we must push home the message that people have to drive carefully’. No arguments on that one, but do these particular means help towards the end? Concentrology sees two dangers in this approach.

The first is that when speeding driver sees the hologram for the first time, they slam on the anchors so hard that they actually endanger themselves and others around them. Rear end shunt, anyone? When they realise that the hologram is just that, a range of emotions is likely to set in. And not all of them geared towards safer driving behaviour…..

The second danger, of course, is inoculation against the real risk. The hologram is actually weaker than the speed camera. At least the latter offers a real, or potential, affecting consequence every time you drive past it. The hologram offers none after the first scare. It may even be counter – productive. God forbid that small girl actually does run out in front of the driver. But if she did, would there be a subconscious reaction of delay inflicted through repeat hologramming?

At its core, of course, is negative reinforcement. Scaring people into behaving safely is not a sound long term strategy. I come across this all the time; well – intentioned leaders seeking to change the mindset of those under their jurisdiction, using scare tactics in an attempt to do so. Part of this is born of their frustration; why can’t others see it the way I see it? The hard truth is that to get any improvement underway, you have to deal with the reality of where people are, then build on that to get better, rather than expecting a quantum leap in mindset through the use of blunt trauma.

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