Showing teenage drivers how to avoid being distracted behind the
wheel works better than nagging them to put their phones away, research
By Julie Jargon of The WSJ. Excerpts:
"Through apps from insurers and other providers, parents can track their teens on the road and see how well they’re driving."
"An age-old parenting quandary is whether and when to use positive reinforcement or punishment with children. When it comes to teen driving, the stakes for choosing the right approach are high. Do you take away teens’ driving privileges if the tracking apps show them to be speeding or using their phones too much while driving, or do you focus on what they’re doing right?"
"Summer is the most dangerous time of year for auto accidents, and new teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to the Automobile Association of America. Distraction plays a role in about 6 out of 10 teen crashes."
One man "had been using State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save app to keep tabs on his young drivers, and to receive insurance discounts if they drove without speeding or braking too hard."
"A State Farm spokesman said the app positively reinforces safe driving behavior by offering insurance-premium discounts up to 30%."
"New research is emerging that shows positive reinforcement works best with drivers, according to a study out of Australia and preliminary findings from University of Pennsylvania researchers, who are still analyzing data collected from more than 2,000 drivers. In their study, one group of drivers received weekly feedback from Progressive Auto Insurance’s Snapshot app on how their hand-held phone use while driving compared with that of others in their age group; another group received up to $50 at the end of a seven-week period if their phone use was among the lowest in their demographic group; and another received both feedback and the monetary incentive."
"Still another group received weekly feedback and weekly incremental incentives that could add up to $50 if the driver had comparatively low phone use all seven weeks. Depending on how their phone use compared with others for the week, they would either earn or forfeit money. They would receive text notifications letting them know how much of their weekly allotment they had received—or sacrificed.
Drivers who were promised money at the end of the study for keeping their phone use comparatively low showed a 17% reduction in phone use, compared with a control group. The drivers whose earnings were meted out week by week did even better, reducing their phone use by 23%. “Showing people how much they were losing each week created regret,” said lead study author Kit Delgado, an emergency room physician and associate director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania."
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