$25 not to speed

STEVE COLQUHOUN
Last updated 08:25 25/06/2012

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Paying drivers not to speed could be the next step in the war against the road toll, a US study has concluded.

The study, undertaken by research company Udini and partly funded by the US Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that speeding was virtually eliminated among a group of drivers who were offered US$25 (NZ$31) a week not to exceed the speed limit.

The report concluded there were "dramatic reductions in speeding" with even modest financial incentives.

Ian Reagan, a traffic researcher for NHTSA, says drivers appeared to slow down because of the carrot-and-stick approach, with a prize for good driving combined with mild financial penalties for infringements.

''We found that the incentive system was incredibly effective in getting drivers to reduce their speeding,” he told news website npr.org.

''Egregious speed limit violations were almost eliminated — that's driving nine or more [miles per hour] over the speed limit.''

The study placed a GPS tracker in eight cars and loaned to 50 different drivers for a week. A control group of 10 drove the cars as they did every day and their speed was monitored.

Another 20 were warned every time they exceeded the speed limit.

The final 20 drivers were also warned when they exceeded the speed limit but additionally told they would get a $25 reward at the end of the week if they didn't exceed the speed limit. They lost three cents for travelling between 3-8 miles per hour (5-13kmh) over the limit and six cents for infringements above that level, the npr.org website reports. Any speeding tickets they accrued stood as an additional penalty.

Each time the driver completed a trip, they were given a report showing any penalties they had accrued.

Reagan says despite the small reward on offer and minuscule penalties, there was a mindset among some drivers in the study to “beat the game”.

“At least one driver said they made a game out of it,” Regan says. “They wanted to see if they could keep that incentive amount of $25.”

The results are sure to pique the interest of insurance companies, many of which already offer rewards to drivers who don’t make claims in the form of reduced premiums.

Insurance companies in the UK are already offering discounts to drivers who voluntarily install a small black box that monitors their on-road behaviour, with drivers who fit the technology found to be involved in fewer accidents.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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