Researchers set out to improve driver behaviour with subtle nudges

Monday, December 14, 2020 - 08:38
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A new research project has highlighted a number of ‘subtle changes’ that can nudge road users to behave more safely – without them being aware of it.

driver behaviourThe EU-project, MeBeSafe, has developed eight ‘soft measures’ which it estimates could save 366 lives and prevent 40,000 collisions per year across the EU.

The €7.1 million project has spanned three and a half years, and the researchers say each measure has been thoroughly developed and researched from both a technological point-of-view, as well as the attitudes of people subjected to them.

The first measure aims to help cyclists reduce speed before ‘really dangerous’ junctions.

It features a number of flat stripes across a cycle lane, which get closer and closer together as the cyclist approaches the junction. This leads to an illusion of the rider going faster than they really are, which in turn makes them reduce their speed.

The researchers say long-term studies show that the stripes make twice as many cyclists slow down before the junction, and that the idea has ‘almost universal approval’.

A second measure aims to make car drivers slow down, especially when exiting a motorway.

The nudge is based on two rows of lamps embedded in each side of the road. If the driver is detected to be speeding, the lamps light up in such a pattern that the light seems to be moving towards the driver.

This creates an illusion of speed, and is found to decrease the number of speeding drivers by 40%.

The nudge was also very well-received by drivers who passed it by, according to the researchers.

Two other in-vehicle nudges aim to increase the distance between cars by encouraging the use of Adaptive Cruise Control – while a reward scheme was also developed to incentivise tired drivers to take a break.

 

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