A wooden pole with a yellow traffic sign, reading "slow down, this is a neighbourhood not a racetrack"
Article/journal, Innovation, Public policy, Munk School

Can behavioral interventions be too salient? Evidence from traffic safety messages

Do traffic safety interventions work? Hall and Madsen present evidence from a study in Texas showing that the number of crashes actually increases by a few percentage points when motorists are confronted with displays indicating the number of road fatalities in the area. The authors suggest that this counterintuitive finding results from a cognitive overload experienced by drivers when confronted with multiple notices and instructions on complex stretches of road, leading to distraction. They conclude that traffic safety “nudges” need to be carefully designed and positioned to avoid backfiring.