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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Behavioural Economics: Punishment for Texting Drivers

That last bit is the most important one.  Busy, reactive people don't proactively care about getting caught; they're much more likely to complain after the fact or cast blame elsewhere then do anything to avoid getting caught in the first place.

It's a limbic thing.  They'll take the fine or fight it, but there's really not enough motivation at the front-end for them to change their beahviour.  That's why you get repeat offenders, a situation that will continue even if they move on to demerit points; I guarantee the problem will continue and more to the point, distracted driving accidents will continue.

The reason people text and drive is because they aren't mindful of others around them; it takes effort to be considerate (and even aware) of others around you.  When you see your time as exclusively valuable and your priorities as paramount, where's the motivation to commit sociology?

This is where behavioural economics comes in.  Instead of offering a slap on the wrist or a punch in the face as punishment, make it worse - for drivers caught in the act to do something much more irritating, invasive and consuming of their time.

Do the fines and demerit points, but added to that, make in mandatory for those charged with such offences to take evening courses, sufficiently lengthy in nature, about safe driving practices, social/emotional empathy, the value of hands-free support systems in cars, etc.  And make it compulsory that they leave their smart phones at the door.  

Car manufacturers will love this, but the drivers will go batty at the concept of losing out in a prolonged fashion.  This will create an unhealthy level of anxiety and annoyance in drivers, depriving them of their telcom fixes and also eating into their precious personal time.

If you want to change behaviour, first understand why it exists as is in the first place.  

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