A recent study was conducted by traffic safety researchers in an attempt to find a way to incentivize drivers to obey the posted speed limits. The study was partially funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and implemented GPS tracking devices in order to gather accurate speed data. Eight vehicles were monitored with GPS tracking devices, with a total of 50 participants driving one of these vehicles for four weeks. At the end of each week, if the drivers avoided going five miles above the speed limit, they were rewarded $25. However, each time the drivers exceeded the speed limit by five to eight mph, three cents were docked from the reward. If the driver went nine or more mph above the limit, he or she was docked six cents.
“We found that the incentive system was incredibly effective in getting drivers to reduce their speeding,” said Ian Reagan, a traffic safety researcher for the NHTSA. “Egregious speed limit violations were almost eliminated — that’s driving nine or more [mph] over the speed limit.” For decades traffic safety experts have attempted to motivate drivers to obey speed limits. Speeding is deadly serious, and results in approximately 12,000 fatal accidents every year in the U.S.. Despite flashing signs informing drivers of their speed, increasingly costly speeding fines, and hidden speeding cameras, drivers continue to put themselves and others in danger by speeding.
At last, researchers have found a method that actually works, by using the carrot rather than the stick. “At least one driver said they made a game out of it,” Reagan said. “They wanted to see if they could keep that incentive amount of $25.” Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the government will be able to fund a program like this on a large scale. However, many insurance companies already offer discounts and other incentive programs for safe driving. Perhaps Progressive or Mercury insurance companies will soon track their customers with GPS tracking devices and offer rewards for obeying posted speed limits.