A television programme in Thames Television's `TV Eye' series gave a detailed account of a day's road accidents and illustrated the effects that accidents can have on those involved and on their relatives. Audience reactions to this programme were studied. The programme was seen by some 8.7 million people: questions to drivers showed that few of those who did not see it had deliberately chosen not to do so because of the topic. Those who saw the programme were asked how likely they felt it was that they would, in the future, be involved in a serious accident as a driver; they thought that this was more likely to happen than non-viewers did, and more so than a cross-section of drivers did before the programme. Those who saw the programme were somewhat more likely to mention pedestrians and motorcyclists among `accident causes' than those who did not see it and accidents to these road users had featured strongly in the programme. The programme seems to have had some success in achieving its aim of `bringing home the waste of life'. The study supports evidence about TV commercials by confirming that when a considerable amount of time is devoted to road safety on TV, this can bring about changes among the audience of the kind desired. (A)

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