Getting unfit drivers off the road

VicRoads presented BWA Research Fellow, Nick Faulkner, with a staggering fact: nearly half of those sent letters asking them to have a doctor check their medical fitness to drive didn’t comply by the due date.

These drivers are not only a risk to themselves or others, but they can also have their licence suspended.

The challenge:
How to increase compliance among those sent letters asking them to confirm their medical fitness to drive

Problem 1: Medical fitness to drive reviews

VicRoads had a problem: 49% of drivers weren't submitting their medical fitness records in time.

Using our INSPIRE Framework we re-wrote VicRoads’ standard letters.

The new letters clearly explained why drivers had received the letters, what to do when to do it, why suspensions happen and acknowledged that the process is difficult.

What did we find?

On-time reports jumped from around 50 per cent to 62 per cent.

If this was applied to all of VicRoads’ medical review letters, you’d get nearly 7,000 more on-time submissions per year, a 20 per cent drop in follow-up correspondence costs, fewer unnecessary suspensions and, most importantly, fewer unsafe drivers on the road.

High returns for the low cost of applying the bright arts of behavioural science!

Problem 2: Registration renewals

VicRoads also had a second problem: 30% of people weren't paying their registration on-time.

To help, we conduct a quasi-randomised controlled trial.

Along with the normal message at the top of the letter (‘Say goodbye to rego stickers for all light vehicles’), we added four variations to see if any would prompt people to pay their registrations by the due date.

Broadly summarised, the additional messages were:

  • The Stick (pay now and you won’t get fined)
  • The Carrot (you could win a holiday!)
  • Family Values (insure them and keep them safe) and,
  • You Pay Us, We Pay You (after an accident).

What did we find?

‘You Pay Us, We Pay You’ (up 2.3 per cent) was the most effective. A 2.3 percent increase might not seem much, but on a typical renewal run of 100,000 letters, it would equate to 2,300 more registered drivers on the road and approximately $4.5 million more on-time payments each year.

All from changing a few words on a letter!

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