Expert Blog

The simple leaflet that stops people speeding

20171027_The simple leaflet that stops people speeding

A year ago, we brought you news of a promising trial being run by West Midlands Police in conjunction with the Behavioural Insights Team. The aim was to reduce reoffending among people caught speeding, and the method was amazingly simple.

The Behavioural Insights Team (also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’) designed a new leaflet to accompany the Notice of Intended Prosecution that is sent out to motorists when they’re caught speeding. The leaflet explains how speed limits are set and why they are so important.

As we said last year, it sounds sensible enough. And the leaflet had already been shown to increase the number of people who paid their fines, reducing the number and cost of prosecutions for speeding. But could such a subtle intervention really stop people from speeding again? 

Now we have the answer, courtesy of the Behavioural Insights Team’s latest annual update report. Following a 19-week randomised controlled trial involving 15,346 drivers in the West Midlands, the leaflet was found to reduce the number of drivers who reoffended within six months by 20%. That’s a pretty impressive result for a single piece of paper.

Last year, 229 people were killed in road accidents where a driver was exceeding the speed limit, and another 1,549 were seriously injured. This simple intervention therefore has the potential to save lives and prevent injuries – at a very low cost.

The Behavioural Insights Team is now trialling the new leaflet with the Metropolitan Police in London. If that trial is successful too, hopefully we’ll see it rolled out across the country before long.

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