Tragically, almost 30 per cent of all quad bike-related deaths in Australia since the turn of the millennium have occurred in Queensland.
The state also has the unwanted record for the highest number of quad bike-related hospitalisations, with many easily preventable.
As we have seen in many other government campaigns, (the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Join the Drive as a primary example) the need to enact behavioural change regarding long-standing, ingrained bad habits is a complex one.
While there is not necessarily a one-size fits all approach to correcting human behaviour, there is a real opportunity to target highly engaged audiences to act as a Trojan horse — filtering messages to peers and family in the process.
In an attempt to reverse the alarming quad bike statistics, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has run a three-year campaign called ‘Ride ready’ to raise awareness of the issues and risks associated with using quad bikes for both recreational and occupational purposes.
The primary risks relate to wearing helmets, undertaking suitable training, not overloading the vehicle or allowing children to ride an adult-sized bike. In some instances, especially in farming environments, an alternative to a quad bike could be a horse, tractor or even a side-by-side.
Recognising that youth in regional farming regions are a susceptible audience, WHSQ and Rowland have joined forces to expand on the existing gamified Ride ready campaign to further deliver subtle and direct messages about quad bike safety habits.
While school-based competitions have proved successful during the campaign, the new Ride ready mobile game was developed by Rowland based on statistics from the University of Colorado that suggest simulations and games in learning environments see both an 11 per cent increase of factual knowledge and a nine per cent increase in retention rates.
WHSQ’s Director of Awareness and Engagement George Buxton said the project was a first for WHSQ to have a mobile game developed as part of a public education campaign.
“We specifically want to target older kids and young adults, and gaming has become such an ingrained part of our society we felt it was a good opportunity to try something new and convey serious information in a non-threatening environment,” George said.
The game features both in-game subliminal rewards for good safety behaviour while between game levels, players are rewarded for reading and acknowledging safety-based facts and information.
Queensland users are further incentivised to keep coming back to improve their score by having quad bike helmets available as prizes.
I see this as a new spin on a tried and tested communication model. Gamification is all around us, it is just not always in a game format.
We all want some form of reward or recognition for doing the right thing and gameplay is a great vehicle to embed valuable information, sometimes without us consciously recognising it.
It is a privilege for us to deliver this project and to contribute to a change in attitude and behaviour towards such a serious subject.