Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Coasian approach to speeding enforcement

(via Gizmondo)

Now this, this is a traffic camera I can get behind. The Speed Camera Lottery, a winning project for Volkswagen's Fun Theory series, sends tickets to speeders and enters law-abiding drivers in a lottery to win their money. Automatic auto-karma.

The Fun Theory is basically thus: people will do the right thing if you make the right thing fun to do. Winning other peoples' money is totally fun, so Kevin Richardson designed a traffic camera that would facilitate just that. Bad drivers get tickets; good drivers get entered in a lottery to win the cash. And in this case the Fun Theory held true—the average speed of traffic went down 7 km/hour with the Lottery Camera installed. [YouTube]

I suggest that people will do the right thing when the right thing is worth more than doing the wrong thing. Even though the odds of winning the Speed Camera Lottery may be low, the potential pay-off raises the value of staying within the speed limit. Paying drivers to do the "right thing" through a lottery may be a low-cost way to encourage safer streets.

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