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Study: Cash Rewards Motivate Speeding Drivers to Slow Down

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Speed Limit - Photo SketchA new study has found that speeding drivers will slow down when they are given money to do so. National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Shankar Vedantam reports that although many strategies have failed to get drivers to slow down, giving them a financial incentive seems to do the trick.

As  Vedantam relates:

Researchers have found that a small GPS-based device that constantly measures the speed of a car against the posted speed limit can slow drivers down, if it’s paired with the right financial incentive.

In a ‘proof-of-concept’ experiment partly funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers found that drivers slow down dramatically when they are promised a $25 prize at the end of each week of safe driving.

In order to make the method work, the system deducted 3 cents from the driver’s prize every time a test subject went five-to-eight miles per hour (mph) above the speed limit, and 6 cents every time they went nine or more mph over the limit.

NPR quotes Ian Reagan, a traffic safety researcher at NHTSA, who said: “We found that the incentive system was incredibly effective in getting drivers to reduce their speeding.” Reagan said that “Egregious” speed limit violations — driving nine or more mph over the speed limit — were almost eliminated. “At least one driver said they made a game out of it. They wanted to see if they could keep that incentive amount of $25,” he said.

According to the study, “The Effects of External Motivation and Real-Time Automated Feedback on Speeding Behavior in a Naturalistic Setting,” published in the June 2012 issue of the journal Human Factors, its object was to reduce speeding more than 5 mph faster than the posted speed limit. Similar systems in other countries have worked to reduce speeding, the study said. NPR notes that speeding causes around 12,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. every year.

The strategies that have failed to get speeders to slow down, as NPR reports, include: large flashing road signs telling drivers how fast they are going, police going after speeders, and hidden cameras that report speeders to police. The study concludes that the GPS device giving drivers a financial incentive has the potential to reduce the number of speeding drivers, and therefore cut down on speed-related accidents. The researchers suggest that combining this system with incentive-based discounts on auto insurance could significantly improve traffic safety.

Image by JefferyTurner (Jeff Turner), used under its Creative Commons license.


One Response to “Study: Cash Rewards Motivate Speeding Drivers to Slow Down”


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