Statement of Purpose To compare the effectiveness of novel interventions aimed at building the habit of putting down one’s phone while driving, among drivers eligible for a smartphone telematics-based auto-insurance rate.
Methods/Approach We enrolled 1,670 Progressive Snapshot usage-based auto insurance customers in a 10-week randomized trial (NCT04587609) to test the additive impact of interventions designed to reduce handheld phone use while driving. Arm 1 (control) educated participants about the risks of handheld use. Arm 2 also gave them a free phone mount. Arm 3 included goal commitment and habit tips. Arm 4 added gamification and social competition, and Arm 5 linked performance to financial incentives ($11 average/driver). Post-intervention, participants were monitored for 25–65 more days. Outcome differences were measured using fractional logistic regression with Holm adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Results Participants had a mean age of 33 (18 to 77); 66% identified as white, 22% as Black, 4% as Asian, and 15% as Hispanic. Mean overall baseline handheld phone use was 388 sec/hr. During the intervention, Arm 2 (phone mount) had similar handheld use compared to control. Arm 3 (commitment + tips) had 26 sec/hr less use than control, Arm 4 (gamification + competition) had 51 sec/hr less, and Arm 5 (incentives) had 90 sec/hr less. After Holm adjustment, Arm 5 remained significantly different from control during the intervention (25% relative reduction, p < 0.001) and after (23%, p < 0.005). Subgroup analyses found that Arm 5 was successful across all ages.
Conclusion A multi-component behavioral intervention focusing on habit formation led to a sustained, one-quarter decrease in a common form of distracted driving.
Significance Given its successful implementation in a large usage-based auto insurance program, this intervention has significant potential for reducing a leading crash risk if brought to scale.
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