Thursday | 06 April, 2017

Safer transport options for passengers: Recommendations

In the previous blog posts in this series (see here, here, here, and here), we reported the design and results of a randomized control trial on minibus safety in Georgia. In this blog post, we provide recommendations for the Government of Georgia based on the results of the experiment. First, we recommend that the Government:
  • Create an anonymous minibus monitoring program
Telling minibus drivers that they are being monitored for safe driving and may be punished for safety-violations may lead to safer, less distracted driving. The results of the experiment suggest such a program would likely be effective. This suggests that the government has an opportunity to implement a small program, which could have an important impact on making minibus driving safer and reduce the number of accidents related to dangerous driving. If the government does in fact implement such a program, we recommend that the program:
  • Fine unsafe minibus drivers
While our experiment could not test the impact of a potential fine for unsafe driving, the behavioral economics literature suggests that individuals are roughly twice as likely to avoid losses as they are to seek out gains. Given that losses have stronger effects, this is also likely to ensure that there actually is an overall effect of the program. Importantly, this may offset costs associated with the program.
  • Publicize the program in the lead up to implementation
Minibus drivers should be made aware of the program. If they do not know that they could be monitored, the program will be slower to encourage safe driving.
  • Select routes for monitoring randomly on a daily basis
This would help prevent drivers from driving artificially safely in order to avoid a fine on a trip when they believe a monitor to be present based on prior information.
  • Use few monitors, and change them regularly
The success of such a monitoring program relies on monitors being able to maintain their anonymity. In a country like Georgia, with a small population and dense social networks, maintaining monitor anonymity will be challenging. Hence, the government should consider drawing monitors from one of the civil service agencies with a relatively large staff. The Ministry of Internal Affairs Patrol Police Department would likely be an ideal institution given that patrol police officers are already aware of road safety legislation, and there are a sufficiently large number of officers who could participate in the program on a rolling basis.

The above recommendations are likely to help improve the safety of marshutka driving in Georgia. With less distracted and dangerous driving on Georgia’s roads, the high level of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on roadways are likely to decline. Ultimately, such a policy is likely to lead to safer transport options for passengers.