In 2014, Volkswagen was the biggest R&D spending company in the world, investing US$13.5 billion. Much of this focus is on safety.
And while Volkswagens are undoubtedly getting safer and safer it is still driver behaviour, mainly speeding, that is the single biggest cause of road crashes and most significant factor in determining whether a crash will be fatal.
Dangerous decisions on the road occur due to momentary lapses in judgment. Our rational, responsible selves take a backseat to the irrational person racing to a meeting, or overtaking a frustratingly slow driver.
The Volkswagen Reduce Speed Dial experiment aimed to disrupt behaviour at this critical moment.
In a controlled experiment conducted by Colenso and FINCH, directed by Luke Bouchier - four families were supplied with Volkswagen Golfs. Unbeknown to the parents, we created a replacement panel for the speedo. They followed all of the clarity and safety restrictions of a standard speedo, but the dial was personally hand written by one of their children. This simple, personal mnemonic aimed to remind our parents what they have to live for at the exact moment they considered speeding.
We followed our Kiwi families and their driving habits to understand the impact of this idea and whether we could in fact, engineer safer drivers. The results, whilst indicative at this stage, have been very promising:
- One family had no recorded speed infringements after the installation of the personalised speed dial
- One family reduced their top speed by 19kmh from a max of 123km to a max of 104km
- Half of the drivers’ maximum speeds reduced after fitting their personalised speed dial
- Three out of the four drivers reduced their incidence of speeding in 100km zones by 50 per cent.
Overall, all of the families reduced their speed in multiple driving situations.
Tom Ruddenklau, general manager at Volkswagen New Zealand, said, “With Volkswagen Group the biggest spending R&D company in the world, we focus on engineering safer cars year after year. But safety ratings don’t change driver behaviour – and there’s an opportunity for our brand to do our bit in trialling some things that may. It was a great opportunity to work with four Kiwi families to investigate a simple idea that may one day help us all.”
Nick Worthington, creative chairman Colenso BBDO, added, “As with most problems we often overlook the most simple answer. We hope that the results from this early trial help to direct more focus on the cause of the vast majority of crashes – the driver. This has been an emotional process for everyone involved and we believe that having a simple reminder from a loved one in front us at the exact moment when you are thinking about speeding is a brilliant way to make people think about everything and everyone they have to live for.”