Results from a study released earlier this month suggest that speeding drivers would slow down, if given a good financial incentive.
In an effort to find ways to keep drivers from speeding, researchers attached a small GPS device to measure drivers speed against the posted speed limits. Participants were offered a $25 prize at the end of each week of safe driving, or driving within four miles of the posted speed limit. Each time participants would speed, they'd lose money, the amount determined by how much faster than the speed limit they were traveling (3 cents for driving five to eight miles above the speed limit, for example). The study was conducted to see how effective financial incentives would be in reducing speeding behavior, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 31 percent of fatal crashes in 2008 were related to speeding (totaling 12,000 deaths).
Researchers found that the financial incentive offered to participants in the study "resulted in significant reductions in driving faster than the posted limit." Drivers knew they would be losing money already guaranteed to them by driving faster than the speed limit.
The report suggests that these findings may be helpful to insurers when attempting to get drivers to slow down and obey speed limits.
"The technology used in this study has potential to benefit traffic safety by reducing the incidence of driving faster than the posted limit, which should lead to a reduction in speed-related crashes," the report states. "Insurers provide incentive-based discounts on premiums. Combining this technology with such a discount program may improve traffic safety significantly."
The study, "The Effects of External Motivation and Real-Time Automated Feedback on Speeding Behavior in a Naturalistic Setting," was conducted by Ian Reagan of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, James Bliss of Old Dominion University, and Ron Van Houten and Bryan Hilton of Western Michigan University. The full 13-page report is available at bit.ly/GPSstudy.