May 10, 2019

Can We Get Drivers to Slow Down?

By Noam Maital, CEO at Waycare

The numbers tell the story. Of some 40,000 traffic deaths in the US every year, almost a fourth (9,723) were directly the result of excessive speed. And over the past 20 years, speed has been a factor in a third of the U.S.’s motor vehicle fatalities. Some 70% of all drivers admit to speeding at least some of the time. Crash fatalities rose by nearly 6% between 2015 and 2016. Speed-related fatalities rose similarly.

The question is, how can we get drivers to slow down – and save lives?

Stephanie Pappas tackles this question in the April issue of the APA Monitor, “Research suggests that people determine how fast to drive by using cues from the road and neighborhood,” she notes. “Alter the environment by adding small parks and bike lanes, and people will drive more slowly.”

However, note Dr. Emanuel Robinson and Dr. Doreen De Leonardis, of Westat, a Maryland research organization, “Onboard technology of today’s vehicles can easily be used to stymie speeding.” They tested a group of 101 chronic speeders (with speeding tickets). They agreed to install a unit in their cars that alerted them if they exceeded the speed limit by more than 8 mph. An electronic voice warned, “speeding violation.” They found that as a result, the frequency of speeding declined dramatically.

What does not work is “death and destruction” warnings in public campaigns. But an ad that stressed how young women scorn young men who “rev their engines” was more effective.

Dr. Robinson also observed that “onboard GPS devices that can transmit real-world information on speed can return much more reliable data than people’s self-reports. This could lead to the development of interventions that prompt people to drive more safely on real roads [especially, dangerous ones].

[1] US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[2] Stephanie Pappas.  “Curbing the need to speed”.  APA Monitor, April 2018, pp. 38-43.

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