Can the car driver be persuaded to avoid peak traffic? The Spitsmijden experiment will provide the answer. Spitsmijden is Dutch for avoiding peak traffic. During the 50 working day Dutch experiment, 340 frequent drivers looked for alternatives to driving in morning traffic over the stretch of the Dutch A12 motorway from Zoetermeer towards The Hague. They were rewarded if they were successful, and it worked! The number of participants driving in peak morning traffic was cut in half.
Background & Objectives
The “Spitsmijden” project was initiated by a partnership of the following organisations: Transumo, SWINGH, Rijkswaterstaat innovatieprogramma Wegen naar de Toekomst, RDW, ARS Traffic & Transport Technology, Rabobank Nederland, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit Utrecht, Technische Universiteit Delft, Goudappel Coffeng and OC Mobility Coaching.
The goal of the “Spitsmijden” test in 2006 was to investigate whether the use of a reward programme can be a steering mechanism for traffic management. During the experiment with a time span of 50 working days, 340 frequent drivers looked for alternatives to driving in morning traffic over the stretch of the Dutch A12 motorway from the city of Zoetermeer towards the city of The Hague.
To gain information about whether the participants did or did not drive during rush hour (7:30 - 9:30), a combination of techniques has been used:
- Electronic Vehicle Identification (EVI),
- camera-registration and
- GPS-tracking by means of an On Board Unit (OBU).
The surplus value of this combination is the possibility of acquiring very detailed data about time and position of the participants. During the period of the test, every participant was asked to fill in a digital logbook on a daily basis. Doing so, they provided extra information about their behaviour and choices during the test. It could also be used to cover up for flaws regarding the measuring-equipment.
The reward one could obtain depended on the number of avoided rush hour car trips, this related to their pre-test transport behaviour. The participating persons were able to make a choice about the type of reward they‘d get when avoiding peak hour. Either a sum of money, either a Smartphone.>If someone chose to get a financial bonus, he or she could earn approximately €5 per avoidance. To find out which reward was the most effective, one varied the bonuses: during one period participants could earn €3, during another period this could be up to €7. Those who chose to save for a Smartphone had the ability to use the Smartphone during the testing period. The Smartphone provided them with information concerning traffic situations on their route. If at the end of the period, they had avoided a certain percentage of daily rush hours, the Smartphone was theirs to keep.
The results of the test are promising. Without reward, 40% of the participants were a part of the rush hour, during the period of the test however a reduction to 20% was noticed. Most participants earned their rewards because they adjusted the moment they take off to work to the rush hour. In most of the cases this implicated an agreement with their employer about going into a flexible working pattern. Although the most significant progression was made by leaving to work earlier, one did also notice an increase in car-use after the rush hour. The total car-use has seen a slight decrease, from 70% to 65%, mainly due to an increase in the use of public transport. However, after the testing period, almost all of the participants changed back to their former travelling habits.
The test indicated that the participants did react on positive stimulation. This leads us to the question whether it is possible to realise a structural effect on mobility by means of a reward system. In order to find an answer the partners will engage in further research regarding the matter.
They also announced they are working on a new test to pursue answers on the following questions:
- Will the rewarding system still work when applied on a larger test group?
- In which situations is it possible to apply the rewarding system?
- In which extent will other drivers fill up the extra road space, created by the application of these measurements?
In 2008 a new test will be realised.