Want to be a safer driver? The technology and psychology that can help

Imagine a world inhabited by rational people, motivated to serve the common good, whose perceptions stay the same and whose decisions are logical. The reality, of course is that people are guided by emotions, beliefs and biased perceptions. These human characteristics result in major social problems such as obesity, debt, climate change and more than 1.2 million people being killed on the road globally every year. In a recent report by the International Transport Forum (pdf), figures from several countries show that almost a third of serious crashes are caused by deliberate violations and risk-taking, and most result from simple errors of perception or judgement. “Nudges”, or prompts, can remind people to drive more safely. Behavioural scientists have recently found that nudges can successfully change behaviour. The average driver negotiates traffic in a habitual way, often with little conscious thought. Concentration is constantly required despite driving sometimes being monotonous.

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