Bleeping Horns

Behavioural Economics is something which is something I am enthralled by. Everything makes sense, when the psychological insights into human behaviour are the reasons why people make economic decisions.

Briefcase, an Indian management consulting, use behavioural design to change consumer, employee and public behaviour. With a population of 1.324 billion, and approximately 210 million registered motor vehicles (2015), they wanted to take a look to see if they could change the behaviour of the incessant noise pollution which they lived in. They wanted to see if honking simply become part of the driving experience.

A study in 2011, showed that at the ITO intersection in Dehli, noise levels reached 106 decibels (dB) due to vehicles honking their horns. That study was conducted in 50 cities around the world, including Mumbai and Delhi, showing citizens of Delhi had the maximum amount of hearing loss proportionate to their age. The WHO estimated almost 6% of people in India suffer form hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to noise above 60dB can lead to irreversible Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), and its not just about hearing, this exposure also has serious health implications such as heart conditions, sleep disorders and cognitive impairment in children. In

In the case of Bleep, they looked at testing a selected group of men, women and chauffeurs of private vehicles, over a six month period travelling over 2800kms. They were given an option of two cars, manual or automatic, with “Bleep” button fitted, and asked to drive it for 4 days of the working week -2 days with the Bleep function off, and next two with it on.  (This gave a control element, as the researchers could compare number of honks per Kilometre before and after the Bleep function was turned on).

The results for this small sample were astonishing. There was a reduction of honking their horns between 19% to 96% once the Bleep was triggered every time the horn was pressed, with an average reduction of 61% average. This showed that these drivers were honking indiscriminately, something which is not necessary and usually subconscious.

The action of the driver having to physically switch off the Bleep button on the steering wheel help, an instant feedback, makes the driver conscious about this inappropriate behaviour.

One small button, triggered when something is done, to have to be reset, a small trigger to nudge you in the right direction.

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