From: University of East Anglia
Published February 10, 2017 11:44 AM

Behavioural science can help tackle problem of idling engines

New research by academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Kent and University of Lincoln, suggests that insights from behavioural science can help inform the design of road signs to bring about changes in driver behaviour.

Research in behavioural science has demonstrated how even very minimal cues or ‘nudges’ can sometimes have a powerful influence on human behaviour and decision-making. In this study, the researchers applied this approach to examine whether simple visual and written cues could be used to encourage drivers to switch off their engines while waiting at railway crossings.

By leaving their engines idling for long periods, drivers contribute to air pollution, waste fuel, and produce noise and fumes that harm the environment and public health. However, the researchers found that making simple changes to road signs which prompted drivers to consciously reflect on their behaviour doubled the rate of people turning off their engines.

The authors say the findings, published today in the journal Environment and Behavior, are relevant not just for railway crossings, but anywhere with congestion.

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