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Behavioural economic approaches in favour of road safety

At a glance


Traditional measures that are based on rational thinking and action by individuals (e.g. controls, penalties or education campaigns) sometimes fail to achieve their full potential in road traffic and in reducing accidents. Moreover, it can be assumed that most road users already have a very good knowledge of the rules in force and the appropriate behaviour in certain traffic situations. Nevertheless, desirable behaviour patterns with regard to road safety are not always shown. A promising approach, which has become increasingly popular in recent years in various areas of behaviour such as nutrition or safety, is behavioural economics (including 'nudging'). In contrast to classical approaches, the sometimes non-objective-rational behaviour of people is taken into account more than in classical approaches. Rather, it is assumed that many decisions are strongly influenced by the environmental context as well as by systematic distortions due to various psychological mechanisms. Therefore, the attempt is made to change the subjective perception of the environment in such a way that desired behaviour is as intuitive as possible. In transport, there are still few studies that have explicitly investigated the use of behavioural economic principles. Irrespective of this, it would be possible that such mechanisms are already (successfully) used, but at best have only been or not yet been classified as such. In view of the successes in other areas, a review of road safety measures from the perspective of behavioural economics appears to be appropriate in order to promote, optimise and develop such measures.