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The Wall Street Journal: How to Motivate Your Teen to Be a Safer Driver

From The Wall Street Journal: New research is emerging that shows positive reinforcement works best with drivers, according to a study out of Australia and preliminary findings from University of Pennsylvania researchers, who are still analyzing data collected from more than 2,000 drivers. In their study, one group of drivers received weekly feedback from Progressive Auto Insurance’s Snapshot app on how their hand-held phone use while driving compared with that of others in their age group; another group received up to $50 at the end of a seven-week period if their phone use was among the lowest in their demographic group; and another received both feedback and the monetary incentive. Still another group received weekly feedback and weekly incremental incentives that could add up to $50 if the driver had comparatively low phone use all seven weeks. Depending on how their phone use compared with others for the week, they would either earn or forfeit money. They would receive text notifications letting them know how much of their weekly allotment they had received—or sacrificed. Drivers who were promised money at the end of the study for keeping their phone use comparatively low showed a 17% reduction in phone use, compared with a control group. The drivers whose earnings were meted out week by week did even better, reducing their phone use by 23%. “Showing people how much they were losing each week created regret,” said lead study author Kit Delgado, an emergency room physician and associate director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.