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Can social marketing make 20mph the new norm?

Toy, Sarah; Tapp, Alan; Musselwhite, Charles; Davis, Adrian

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Sarah Toy

Charles Musselwhite

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Dr Adrian Davis
SRF Behaviour Chge and Transitional Res


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. This paper reports the findings of a study that explored the possible role for social marketing in supporting compliance with 20. mph signs-only speed limits. The study, completed in July 2012, involved a review of the literature, the re-visiting of case studies of existing and planned 20. mph signs-only schemes, mainly within Great Britain, and a qualitative research project with the citizens of Bristol, England. A key finding was the mismatch between people's apparent support for 20. mph limits and their actual driving behaviour. The qualitative research focused on investigating this gap. A range of groups of Bristol drivers and residents were recruited for the research to provide insights into why some people may not comply with 20. mph limits where they are in place, and what could be done to counter this non-compliance.The findings suggest three possible driver types in relation to 20. mph areas: 'champions', 'pragmatists' and 'opponents'. The paper discusses the possible mapping of these types onto Moore's 'crossing the chasm' variant of Rogers[U+05F3] diffusion of an innovation model. Here, the 'chasm' represents the difficulty in encouraging compliance amongst pragmatists in the same way as champions. Based on this, it is suggested that social marketing techniques can provide a 'bridge' over this 'chasm' to pragmatists by helping position 20. mph limits as the new norm for urban areas. The mechanism for change would be to support 20. mph as the descriptive norm (what people believe is normal) as well as the injunctive norm (what people think should be normal). In theory, a social contagion effect would help to spread the new behaviour amongst pragmatists-eventually generating a tipping point in which pragmatists would move en-masse, quickly shifting from driving at 30. mph in urban areas to 20. mph-'because everyone else does'.


Toy, S., Tapp, A., Musselwhite, C., & Davis, A. (2014). Can social marketing make 20mph the new norm?. Journal of Transport and Health, 1(3), 165-173.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 8, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 4, 2016
Journal Journal of Transport and Health
Print ISSN 2214-1405
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 3
Pages 165-173
Keywords 20 mph limits, social marketing, driver behaviour
Public URL
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