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Safety officials test new speeding deterrents

For many years, state and federal traffic safety officials have searched for an effective way to decrease the amount of speeding that takes place on U.S. roads, with varied success. Now, researchers may have found a successful way to discourage drivers from speeding. It remains to be seen if and when this method will be available in Missouri and other U.S. states, but it is a promising development nonetheless.

According to federal data, about 12,000 people are killed in speeding-related car accidents every year in the U.S. In an effort to reduce this number, traffic safety officials have tested a variety of speeding deterrence strategies, with little to no success.

First, officials placed large flashing signs to inform motorists of their current speed of travel, with the hope that drivers would slow down if they (and their passengers) knew how fast they were going. When that proved largely unsuccessful, extra police officers were added to enforce speed limits. That also did not work, so officials installed hidden speeding cameras on major roads.

Now, however, researchers may have found a solution that actually works. In a recent test, small GPS device were installed that constantly measured test vehicles' speed and compared it to the posted speed limit. If drivers remained within the speed limit for the duration of a week, they received $25. If they did sped, amounts were deducted - three cents for speeding five to eight mph above the speed limit and six cents for speeding nine or more mph above the limit. Every time drivers turned their cars off, the device reported the 'cost' of their trip.

In the test, drivers responded well to both the 'game' and the compensation. Although there are no current plans to implement this strategy, researchers hope it will soon be offered in some capacity, such as by insurance companies as a way to lower premiums.

Source: NPR, "GPS Study Shows Drivers Will Slow Down, At A Cost," Shankar Vedantam, June 21, 2012

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