Keolis increases safety on school buses with 'nudge' techniques

How do you convince school kids to put on their seatbelts? Keolis, in partnership with the MAIF Foundation, ANATEEP and BVA Nudge Unit, recently ran a five-week trial of 'nudge' techniques, on five school bus networks in France. The objective was to see whether nudge techniques actually work in getting children to wear their seatbelts.

Seatbelts: kids misbehaving on school buses

Seatbelts in school buses in France have been compulsory since 2003, but they remain a source of public concern because the rate of compliance is so low. Despite several awareness campaigns about the wearing of seatbelts and regular onboard inspections, studies have shown that while the majority of children under 10 wear their seatbelt when onboard a school bus, this rate falls to 28.9% for children aged between 10 and 14, and to 4.6% for those between 10 and 19 years of age.

'Nudge' techniques to improve safety onboard

'Nudge' or prompting techniques, are based on people's behaviour, and the science behind the factors underpinning our decisions.

At the start of 2018, drivers, trainers, operational managers and regional directors from Keolis networks in Rennes, Oise, Yveslines and Franche Comté took part in an ideation and brainstorming phase to identify concrete solutions to deploy on school buses run by Keolis. Kisio also took part in the running of the trial and the first one took place from May to June, with more than 1,500 passengers observed in school buses in Keolis Drôme Ardèche.

Each trial was carried out over a two-week period. One week before without nudge techniques, and one week after with these techniques. The objective of these trials was of course to measure the impact on the number of seatbelts worn, but beyond that, it was also designed to help counter risky behaviour in other areas, where accidents continue to occur. Tackling prevention differently is part of the ambitions of the MAIF Foundation, ANATEEP, BVA and Keolis.

An innovative and effective approach

The nudge techniques proved effective for encouraging the wearing of seatbelts in school buses. All combinations of nudge techniques tested allowed an increase in the wearing of seatbelts, which on average, increased from 10% to 24%. This new approach which worked on girls as much as boys, were effective over time and had an impact as much on the first day as the days that followed. Moreover, the nudge techniques provided effective in school buses where the rate of seatbelts worn was low (less than 10%), but also in school buses where there was already a higher rate of compliance (from 15% to 50%).

As a result of this encouraging trial, Keolis has decided to deploy this approach more broadly on its French networks. Between now and the end of the year, school buses in Keolis Nord Rhône Alpes will be equipped with the same techniques.

Photo credits: Bruno Amsellem / MAIF