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THE PROBLEM: Road traffic accidents claim the lives of more than a million people each year worldwide, and are theleading cause of death of young people aged 15-29. By 2030 road injuries are projected to eclipse malaria as the fifth leading cause of death in Africa.
THE SOLUTION: Cut road traffic accidents in half by empowering passengers to demand safer driving.
COST-EFFECTIVENESS: The pilot program achieved impact at the exceedingly diminutive cost of just $2 per DALY
KENYA - Talk is cheap, and when harnessed appropriately, it can produce dramatically cost-effective development solutions. Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death worldwide in people aged 15-29 worldwide, and the second leading cause of death among people aged 5-44 in Africa, where they cost the continent on average $10 billion annually. Researchers from Georgetown University, with support from public and private sector partners, are launching a campaign to reduce the prevalence of road traffic accidents in Kenya by encouraging passengers to demand safe driving.
The project builds on a recent randomized field experiment of a campaign, called “Heckle and Chide,” that targeted passengers of local Kenyan minibuses (called matatus). Motivational messages encouraging passengers to “Stand up! Speak up!” against dangerous driving were pasted in the passenger cabin. The passengers were not asked to report the drivers to a third party – they were simply encouraged to complain.
The results of the pilot campaign, which involved 2,400 vehicles, were striking: insurance claims fell by a half, and claims involving injury or death dropped by two-thirds – at the diminutive cost of just $2 per DALY.
With Stage Two support from DIV, Georgetown University will partner with a local cell phone company, an insurance company, a broadcast media company and a local NGO to expand the campaign to implement a range of alternative messaging strategies, including radio broadcasts, and to reach approximately 10,000 minibuses in Kenya.
To encourage drivers to keep the stickers in place on buses, a weekly lottery will award winnings of $60 to randomly selected drivers who are observed to have retained the stickers in their vehicles. The program will be rigorously evaluated to determine which communication messages are most effective in reducing accidents, and the findings will be disseminated widely in East Africa and the developing world.
The project is an ideal winner for DIV: it addresses one of the developing world’s most dangerous challenges with a method as cheap, simple, and replicable as a postage stamp.
- Read more about the project here.
- Meet lead authors Dr. James Habyarimana and Dr. Billy Jack
- Read the original study, “Heckle and Chide: Results of a Randomized Road Safety Intervention in Kenya,” CGD Working Paper 169
- See what the NY Times Freakonomics Blog had to say
- Learn more from the WHO about the problem of road traffic injuries
Last updated: February 19, 2013