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Comparative Effectiveness of Alternative Smartphone-Based Nudges to Reduce Cellphone Use While Driving

Project Information

Project Status: 
Start Date: 
Friday, September 29, 2017
End Date: 
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
FHWA Program: 
Exploratory Advanced Research
FHWA Topics: 
Safety; Human Factors; Policy; Cellphone Use
TRB Subject Area: 
Safety and Human Factors, Policy

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
(202) 493-3371
Email Address: 
Office of Safety Research and Development
Office of Research, Development, and Technology

Project Details

Project Description: 

This work builds on the innovative, cross-disciplinary collaboration for testing behavioral economic strategies for health behavior change and experts in traffic safety. Two field experiments will test scalable smartphone-based "nudge" strategies to reduce cellphone use while driving. The first randomized trial tests the effect of policies requiring smartphones to have a "car mode," akin to "airplane mode," and enhancements for uptake and sustained use via potential auto insurance incentives. Specifically, the effect of "opt-out" vs. "opt-in" deployment of a smartphone "car mode" setting that blocks cellphone use while driving, with and without financial incentives.

The second randomized trial compares the effects of social, individual, and team-based incentives by employers that could be scaled to reduce cellphone use while driving. This research may assist policymakers to make decisions concerning cellular-based distracted driving countermeasures and lead to transformative innovation through the translation of insights from behavioral economics to the design of more effective usage-based insurance programs and employer and fleet management programs for motivating safer driving.