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The Honest Truth: always drive safely and responsibly

An award-winning road safety campaign is to be launched in Essex to help to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes by young or inexperienced drivers.

The Honest Truth campaign uses eye-catching images of young men and women with the heads of animals and birds to identify poor driving habits that can lead to serious collisions.

Speeding drivers are represented by cheetahs, drinkers by a  bulldog, drug users by a chameleon and mobile phone users by a parrot.


A driver with no insurance is shown as an ass and show-offs are peacocks.

Those who fail to wear seat belts are shown as a rhino – to show how a passenger without a seat belt can be thrown around in a crashing car with the same effect as a charging rhinoceros.

The campaign, which will be launched later this month, relies on linking crucial messages to animals to remind young people of the dangers they could face.

Essex Police will be leading the campaign for the Essex Casualty Reduction Board and will be working closely with driving instructors, the fire and rescue service and the road safety teams in Essex, Southend and Thurrock.

Driving instructors will be encouraged to use prompt cards with the images of the animals to drive home crucial messages appropriate to each individual learner driver during their lessons.


The Honest Truth catchline of the campaign asks all drivers to study the images and to identify if their own driving behaviour falls into any of the dangerous categories.

The campaign was developed in South Devon after a road crash in which three young people aged nine, 17 and 19 died. A partnership was set up to examine how similar crashes could be avoided. Young people helped to test various ideas for highlighting key safety messages and the animal hybrid concept was set up. The campaign proved to be a huge success, won numerous national awards and is being adopted by partnerships across the UK.

On average, a young person is killed on UK roads every 18 hours, while another suffers a serious injury every 90 minutes. In Essex a young person is killed, on average, every 28 days, while another suffers a serious injury every 36 hours.

On average, each year in Essex, 98 collisions involve young car drivers. Of these young drivers, four are killed and a further 65 seriously injured. However, in 40 of these collisions, whilst the young driver is not injured, their actions were a contributory factor in the deaths of four other road users and in serious injury to a further 47. Whilst these young drivers may not be physically injured, they have to live with this knowledge.


Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s Casualty Reduction Manager, said: “The Partnership is delighted to adopt this new and novel approach to spreading an appropriate road safety message to young people and we look forward to sharing the passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by Devon and Cornwall Police for the scheme with local driving instructors.

“The safety of young people remains a priority for Essex Police and its road safety partners and all too often staff and officers deal with the tragic consequences of road traffic collisions involving young drivers and passengers.

“As the promotional activity develops it is also very clear that the Honest Truth approach can also be used to engage a number of other key road users and their behaviours.”

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “There are still too many people being killed or seriously injured on our roads, and we must do everything in our power to address this. I welcome the introduction of the Honest Truth campaign to Essex, and I hope the initiative raises driver awareness as successfully as it did in Devon. We must continue to use innovative means to remind everyone of our responsibility to drive safely and responsibly on the roads of our county.”


Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, Cllr Rodney Bass said: “It is important to engage young people to ensure they drive safely. The partnership wants to drive these messages home before these young people take to the roads on their own, or with friends. This campaign presents a novel opportunity to promote safety to young drivers, in a memorable way.”


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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police

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