The effect of ‘smart’ financial incentives on driving behaviour of novice drivers

Duncan Mortimer, Jasper S Wijnands, Anthony Harris, Alan Tapp, Mark Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have demonstrated that financial incentives can improve driving behaviour but high-value incentives are unlikely to be cost-effective and attempts to amplify the impact of low-value incentives have so far proven disappointing. The present study provides experimental evidence to inform the design of ‘smart’ and potentially more cost-effective incentives for safe driving in novice drivers. Study participants (n = 78) were randomised to one of four financial incentives: high-value penalty; low-value penalty; high-value reward; low-value reward; allowing us to compare high-value versus low-value incentives, penalties versus rewards, and to test specific hypotheses regarding motivational crowding out and gain/loss asymmetry. Results suggest that (i) penalties may be more effective than rewards of equal value, (ii) even low-value incentives can deliver net reductions in risky driving behaviours and, (iii) increasing the dollar-value of incentives may not increase their effectiveness. These design principles are currently being used to optimise the design of financial incentives embedded within PAYD insurance, with their impact on the driving behaviour of novice drivers to be evaluated in on-road trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Behavioural economics
  • Driving behaviour
  • Financial incentives
  • Road safety

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