We meet Michael Bennett of JellyLearn, one of the leading Hazard Perception companies in Europe.
Mr. Bennett, can you describe what JellyLearn’s activities and commitment are for increasing road safety?
Jellylearn was formed in 2014 following the award of the DVSA contract in the UK to develop 130 one minute Hazard Perception (HP) clips which replaced their existing video clips, since then we have developed a further 130 clips which are of different road environments such as urban, rural, motorway with different weather and night/day time driving conditions. With over 160 clips each with a different hazard and many including 2 hazards the DVSA now have a comprehensive bank of clips to provide a unique test for over 2 million candidates that take the test each year. Since then we have used the knowledge and experience gained from that project to focus on how we can use the assets we have developed to produce other road safety content. Our commitment to road safety was confirmed when we anounced in 2016 our strategy for the business called “Road Map for Road Safety” that focuses on delivering high quality animated road safety projects for every type of road user from children right through to seniors. The background of our former business was in producing animated content for advertising companies and that has been the platform for us to use the creative and technical skills of the company to produce interactive and engaging content that embeds deep learning and understanding for what we produce today. We have now completed a number of projects around the world that demonstrates the benefits of this strategy and how it helps improve road safety for every type of road user.
EFA in its Driving Training Matrix indicated the Hazard Perception as a mandatory topic to raise awareness while driving. Unfortunately, in Europe, dynamic Hazard Perception Tests are not yet widespread. Why do you think this is the case?
Hazard Percepion is an evidence based solution to reducing driving accidents amongst young drivers. The benefits are very clear from the Cohort report that the UK government commissioned based on the introduction of HP into the driving test going back to 2002 when it was first introduced. HP tests are still not widespread and only two countries in the world have a high quality animated HP test and those are the UK and Australia. There have been some countries that have added some capability in this area to their Theory test, however, it is still not a separate and unique test that should you fail it you will not be allowed to get your licence until you have passed it. The other main factors between the UK and mainland Europe that are preventing mass adoption are:
a) The way some countries are set up doesn’t easily support the implementation of a single solution to be rolled out nationwide. Take Germany for instance, there are 16 federal states and each one can make an independent decision, so until everyone agrees that its the right thing to do then it doesn’t make sense to introduce a HP test unless everyone can take the same tests on the same basis in every state.
b) Some countries have different approaches to driver training. For example in Portugal it is mandatory that every driver completes 28 theory classes which is very different to the UK model where you don’t have to do this. What you teach young drivers about at this stage can embed valuable learning skills, however, if you are not tesing these as part of a driver licencing programme then how do you measure their effectiveness?
c) The quality of training material differs widely from country to country where driving schools have different views on what constitues a hazard and often the technology used for any footage is that of a dash cam or some form of animation (gaming) tool. Using this type of technology doesn’t allow you to produce and recreate challenging and hazardous situations because of the risks involved so by their very nature the content is very generic. From discussions we have had with road safety professionals across Europe there doesn’t appear to be any research into how accident statistics, especially those involving fatalities for each country, has been used to develop appropriate content to avoid a repeat of these accidents. This means that the content can be very generic and not support some of the learning required for hazards that lead to fatalities on the roads.
What common strategy do you think EFA and JellyLearn can work together on in the near future?
The EU is very supportive of hazard perception, however, they cannot make it mandatory that every country in the EU implements HP testing as part of a driver licencing prgramme. I believe the best strategy would be that countries throughout the EU start to embed HP training clips in their training material so every candidate can get the same learning experiences. This should improve their awareness of what constitues a hazard on the road and what corrective action would need to be taken to avoid the hazard. In order to achieve this I would propose that the EFA establish a working group of members and jointly, using our experience of producing HP clips, we produce a comprehensive set of clips that everyone can use in their training material, whether it is used in-house or delivered at the roadside. If all EFA member driving schools were using the clips this could perhaps help support the EU in investing in projects that support testing of young drivers throughout the EU and ultimately make all the roads a safer place to drive on. This initiative could be funded by a small increment to EFA member fees which would provide an ongoing service where further clips can be produced and any key legislative requirements be updated in the clips. A recent example in the UK was that all motorcycles must now drive with their headlights on and we had to update the clips which is a relatively simple process.