A study on road safety and driver attitudes in Vietnam has highlighted an opportunity for unsafe behaviour to be changed through social marketing.
Social marketing is an approach using commercial marketing principles to influence behaviour for the benefit of individuals or a community.
It has the potential to 'sell' safe road traffic behaviours to change the outlook for the many people who suffer some form of road-related injury or death in Vietnam each year.
The study, conducted by the RMIT Vietnam social marketing research group (including academic staff Lukas Parker, Linda Brennan, Duong Trong Hue and Dang Nguyen) in conjunction with the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF), recruited 74 motorcylist volunteers to form focus groups and discuss what makes a good driver as well as what influences their driving behaviour.
The opportunity for social marketing to change unsafe behaviour was identified through an analysis of the group's responses as to how decisions about road safety are made.
RMIT Vietnam Professional Communications Lecturer Duong Trong Hue, who helped organise the study, said the results showed participants did not see driving and road safety as a serious problem.
"Most participants concluded it was the responsibility of drivers to drive safely to protect the lives of others, which was especially important for people taking family members as passengers on their motorbikes," Mr Hue said.
"The majority of participants believe good motorcycle drivers are focused, aware of other drivers, have their emotions in control and they follow the road rules.
"But there is a widely held belief that if a person obeyed the road rules and others didn't, then the person obeying the rules was considered foolish.
"The example given was if a person didn't run a red light when it had just changed then they would be blamed for blocking the road," Mr Hue said.
Study findings showed participants believe unsafe behaviour includes turning without indicating, sudden breaking, overloading motorcycles with too many passengers or other goods, driving abreast and passing others without alerting them with a horn.
Mr Hue said the study revealed participants thought good road skills included knowledge of shortcuts and one-way streets, how to safely drive on the pavement in traffic jams and knowledge of police spots.
"The study has provided us with an understanding into the existing attitudes and behaviour towards road safety in Vietnam and it will help AIPF and related agencies to identify the messages for an effective road safety social marketing campaign," Mr Hue said.
As the next stage of the project, the RMIT Vietnam social marketing research group is running a survey on social norms and speeding behaviour of young adult motorcyclists in Ho Chi Minh City.