“Heckle & Chide”

How stickers could save lives on Kenya’s minibuses

“14 Killed in Crash” is an all too common headline in Kenya, where a ride on a minibus is a notorious danger. In the next 20 years, deaths in Africa from road accidents are set to be double those from malaria. Already, automobile deaths cost the African continent $10 billion annually.

Photo of minibuses in Kenya

A pair of Georgetown University researchers devised an experiment to see if simple messaging could help save passengers’ lives. Motivational messages encouraging passengers to “Speak up!” against dangerous driving were pasted in the passenger cabin of minibuses. The passengers were not asked to report the drivers to a third party – they were simply encouraged to insist that their drivers slow down.

The researchers’ pilot study, which involved 2,400 vehicles, showed striking results: the stickers were posted inside a random selection of minibuses. Compared to rates for buses without stickers, road accident insurance claims fell by half, and claims involving injury or death dropped by two-thirds. The cost was $7 per disability-adjusted life year.

To encourage drivers to keep the stickers in place on buses, the researchers ran a weekly lottery with winnings of $60 (equivalent to roughly one week’s wages). Drivers were eligible to receive the prize if they had retained the stickers in their vehicles.

With $290,000 from IDEA/DIV, the researchers will expand the pilot to reach approximately 10,000 minibuses in Kenya. The researchers will test different messages and different media techniques to gauge the effectiveness of each over time.

Speak up Now: Dont Let a Reckless Driver get away with murder
Bus Sticker: Speak up Now, Dont Let a Reckless Driver get away with murder

If the results are as promising the second time around, Kenya’s leading insurance company for minibuses is ready to expand the campaign across its entire fleet.

The original study is available here. Check back to the DIV website for news about the progress of the second study, which closes in February 2013.

To read about more DIV grantees, please visit our full portfolio.

Last updated: February 15, 2013

Share This Page