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Learning the dos and don’ts of the road for your driving test is one thing, but keeping up good behaviours on the road is a life-long exercise. Inspiring that behaviour can come down to rewards and punishment; proven ways to create change, but one definitely wins out for road safety. We dive into what makes you the safest driver on the road (spoiler alert: it has its benefits!).

Behaviour & psychology

When it comes to doing tasks, humans are motivated by a few different factors: the positive or negative impact it may have on their lives, as well as if it results in a reinforcement or a punishment.

As part of this, researchers have developed the “Law of Effect,” which acknowledges that when a behaviour is followed by a positive consequence or outcome, it's more likely to be repeated. The opposite is true as well – the more negative or undesirable consequence a behaviour has, the less likely it is to be repeated.

You see this played out when you receive a pay cheque for a job well done, your dog sits on command for a treat, or your child receives an allowance upon completion of the chores. This is all positive reinforcement, doing its part to increase the likelihood that you (or your dog, or your child) will repeat the desired behaviour! The trick to ensuring the good behaviour repeats? Rewarding as soon as possible.

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The psychology of driving

When it comes to driving, it may not feel like there are a lot of rewards. There are a lot of rules and regulations, as well as the potential for tickets from the police. Traditionally, safe driving campaigns have been all about creating fear through shock – think of all the advertisements you’ve seen that feature a gory car crash. The research shows that this can have the opposite effect: stressing out the audience can cause people to ignore or downplay the threat, with little to no change in behaviour.

It’s just too easy to tell yourself, “that could never happen to me.” For example, if you see a campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, you may think you are great at texting while driving, and that you would never crash a car. Unfortunately, that means the dangerous behaviour (texting) doesn’t change, due to a denial of potential risks associated with that dangerous behaviour.

Moreover, when we look at trying to change behaviour through negative consequences  – like getting a ticket for bad driving – it only really tells you what you shouldn’t do, with little to no information on how to master better behaviour. Sometimes it’s easy; if you get a ticket for speeding, you know you should probably drive slower. But how do you improve? Know when you’ve passed into “good driver” territory?

Positive reinforcement on the road

With the Onlia Insurance™ app, we wanted to make safe driving easier, and apply the whole idea of positive reinforcement. Our users know that if they are driving in control, safe on the roads, they will be acknowledged, and even rewarded, for that behaviour.

Coaching a driver by highlighting their good behaviour makes it much easier to repeat, and even allows them to see progress over a period of time. This empowers drivers to do the right thing, time and time again.

When it comes to road safety, consistency is key — it improves your driving, and makes the entire roadway more predictable, as well as safer. Finding ways to constantly grow your skills and confidence behind the wheel will help you get better, rather than just trying to avoid negative consequences. Download the Onlia Insurance™ app today to get better, and get rewarded!

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