European MeBeSafe project aims to make traffic safer through ‘nudging’ techniques


A €7.1m (US$805m) European project has started that aims to reduce the number and severity of road accidents by directly changing drivers’ habitual traffic behavior through ‘nudging’.

Funded by the European Commission (EC) under its Horizon 2020 program, the MeBeSafe (Measures for Behaving Safely in Traffic) aims at changing driving habits using ‘nudging’, a concept relating to subconsciously pushing humans in a desired direction without being prohibitive.

As a major benefit, predisposing humans to making desired choices makes nudging applicable early in a given chain of events that might lead to critical traffic situations. Several nudging measures will be implemented in different facets of road transportation, mainly targeting vehicle drivers, but also laying a secondary focus on cyclists. The nudging measures will be implemented for in-vehicle advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and remote measures such as coaching, as well as through adaptive in-road surface displays.

The project’s consortium of 15 partners requires a cross-disciplinary collaboration between technologists, behavioral scientists and traffic experts, who will be analyzing the effectiveness of each nudging measure, first by modeling, followed by controlled experiments and field trials. The MeBeSafe project will develop and implement nudging and coaching that:

• Achieve a long-term behavioral change through an online driver coaching scheme, by feedback on the driver’s safety performance, safely provided through an app or portal;

• Combat a driver’s lack of alertness and acute driving ability by using visual and audible warning signals to get them to take a break;

• Motivate a driver to increase his use of ADAS to keep a safe distance, and show the benefits of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC);

• Direct and heighten a driver’s attention toward potential hazards, with novel forecasting algorithms based on artificial intelligence (AI) used to determine a situational risk level;

• Get drivers to adopt a safe speed and keep a risk-minimizing trajectory on inter-urban roads;

• Adaptive, emissive road markings/displays will be used in combination with roadside sensors and an infrastructure-based ADAS;

• Motivate cyclists to reduce their speed when approaching risky urban intersections using a new type of rumble strip and interactive visual information;

• Decrease the frequency of unplanned sudden braking, through coaching feedback of truck drivers.

The project is being coordinated by the Institute for Automotive Engineering (IKA) at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, and will run until the end of October 2020. The consortium includes auto makers and suppliers, road infrastructure and fleet owners, traffic data analysis companies, and leading traffic safety research and modeling organizations.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).