Increasing Safety Margins
MeBeSafe was an EU-funded research project that developed and tested solutions to nudge car drivers and cyclists towards safer behaviour in common traffic situations with an elevated risk. The project also looked at coaching.
The purpose was to reduce the number of “almost-crashes”, also known as risky situations. Increasing safety margins can lead to risky situations being avoided – which in turn can lead to fewer crashes in general
Traffic behaviour is mainly habitual
Navigating in traffic is a normal activity for most people and their behaviour is largely controlled by automatic responses. Automated behaviour is not dangerous in itself. It can be anywhere on the scale from high safety margins to very risky.
Many safety measures in traffic fail to reach their potential because they appeal to conscious decision-making. However, the ordinary road user will primarily see traffic as a habitual task and not devote much thought to it.
By using a nudging approach, road users can instead be encouraged to make a safe choice without even thinking of it. All options, including the unsafe ones, are still open, which makes nudging less intrusive than outright prohibitions
Road accident statistics clearly show a number of high-level causation factors, which can be summarised in three categories.
MeBeSafe addressed these risk factors through seven specific objectives:
Get more road users to direct their attention towards potential dangers
Get more road users to use an appropriate speed in potentially dangerous situations
Get more road users to follow an optimal trajectory in potentially dangerous situations
Increase car drivers’ awareness of potential hazards by using in-vehicle nudges
Increase the distance between cars by increasing the use of Adaptive Cruise Control
Get more drowsy car drivers to take a break by using in-vehicle nudges
Get more Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers to put their good driving skills into practice, e.g. by reducing harsh braking
And what were the results?
MeBeSafe tested and developed 8 soft measures to make traffic safer, including lights in the roadsides, flat stripes, moving balls and an app to help truckers coach each other.