The Stick Approach – that seems to work

One of the areas that causes the most debate and difference of opinion in change is the role that incentives and disincentives play in motivating human behaviour.

I am sure we all have examples where blunt, ill designed, incentives or disincentives have failed to drive a desired behaviour, without the support and alignment of other approaches.

However, I saw an interesting example recently that does appear to work by using an incentive/disincentive alone.

One of my colleagues came into the office yesterday with a speeding infringement he received while driving a company registered car. The ticket, as shown below, was for $3033, for being only 8 kilometres (just 5 miles) over the speed limit. Yep, you read that right – $3033!

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I asked him if it was a typo, or some other error and he said no, it was a strategy for getting companies to actually identify the person who was driving the vehicle and get them to take responsibility for the fine.

Here’s how it works. If a car is registered to a company (not an individual) and receives a speeding fine through a speed camera, the total amount of the infringement is increased 20 times from what an individual would be charged, when it gets sent to the company. So,  in my colleagues case the actual amount of the infringement for an individual was $151.65 but because it was for a company registered car it was $3033.

VicRoads, the statutory body in charge of enforcing speeding tickets here in Victoria, says this approach (which was changed in 2014) is about stopping companies from protecting unsafe drivers. VicRoads’ Julian Lyncolgn said at the time;

“The offending drivers not only get away without paying an infringement, there is no impact on their demerit points. This means unsafe drivers continue to use our roads when they could have lost enough points to lose their licence.”

The only way my colleague could pay the $151.65 was to reply back stating he was the individual driving the car. The infringement would then be transferred into his name, and he would receive the demerit points associated with the offence. As you can imagine that was exactly what he was going to do.

What would you choose? Paying $151.65, or your company having to pay $3033? I think I know what I would choose. Even if it wasn’t your own company that was having to pay the $3033, do you think there would be a greater focus, effort and energy on finding out who was driving within a company that had a number of vehicles and drivers?

For me, a really clear example of how an incentive/disincentive alone can drive a certain behaviour.

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