Pro-Social Drivers Programme is working to improve road safety in Ireland, providing education and rehabilitation programmes to change the behaviour and attitudes of dangerous drivers, helping to reduce reoffending and ultimately save lives.
Despite significant progress in recent years, the number of road fatalities in Ireland remains unacceptably high. 2014 saw 196 people lose their lives on Irish roads; our second consecutive yearly increase in road deaths. While dangerous driving remains a substantial challenge for Irish society, our efforts to solve the problem are coming up short. With a road traffic crime reoffending rate of 33%, it is clear that traditional approaches such as fines, driving bans, community service, and incarceration aren’t sufficient. In some cases these punitive measures can actually isolate people, particularly in rural areas, prohibiting them from seeking or retaining employment, making them feel as though they have little choice but to risk driving again.
Having witnessed the devastating effects of dangerous driving in his own community of Donegal, Gary decided it was time for a different response. In an area infamous for its so-called ‘Boy Racer’ culture, Gary wanted to change both attitudes and behaviours by challenging the way we engage with road traffic offenders. The Pro-Social Drivers Programme was established as a road safety initiative that engaged course participants through self-referrals or referrals through the justice system, offering an alternative to traditional punitive measures. Supporting individuals in accepting responsibility for their actions, participants are educated in the areas of social responsibility, emotional control, driving under the influence, and the consequences of anti-social driving behaviour.
Using an approach underpinned by international best practice, the Pro-Social Drivers Programme is the first of its kind in Ireland. The results to date speak for themselves. While the national reoffending rate stands at 1 in 3, just 1 in 100 of the programme’s participants have reoffended since its inception in 2012 - proof that significant progress in this area is possible. Recognising its potential, the programme is now planning to scale across Ireland. Driven by a belief that communities in Ireland can have safer roads, the Pro-Social Drivers Programme offers Ireland an additional tool in its efforts to eliminate this senseless loss of lives.