The power of gamification in the fight against unsafe driving

At Brightmile, we’re building cutting-edge ways to promote engagement with our technology.

A core part of our effort to engage is via our user experience. Driver safety initiatives that fail to meaningfully engage with drivers are flawed - if drivers aren’t motivated to change their behaviour then the impact of the programme is likely to be transient at best.

It may be a buzzword that has been over-used in certain quarters, but we want to incentivise and reward safe drivers, and to tap into a broad spectrum of underlying human motivators to do so. And that’s why we have made gamification a key focus at Brightmile.

In this blog post, we will describe the range of gamification techniques that we are using to elevate safe driving from the prosaic to the stimulating, including the exchange of 'brightmiles' for charitable donations - allowing companies to simultaneously enhance their CSR agenda whilst increasing driver safety.

But first, a little more background on what we mean by gamification.

Gamification explained

It sounds like something out of a computer game (that’s because it is), but gamification covers many incentivisation methods. The simplest way to think of it is as the mechanics that encourage engagement, motivation and loyalty.

“Effective gamification is a combination of game design, game dynamics, behavioural economics, motivational psychology, UX/UI, neurobiology, tech platforms and ROI business implementation.”

Yu-kai Chou

But different people are motivated by different things. In fact, a leading expert in the field, Yu-kai Chou, has defined 8 core drivers of gamification. These range from ‘epic meaning and calling’ (i.e. the core drive when a person believes they are doing something greater than themselves) to ‘social influence & relatedness’ (i.e. the power of social acceptance, peer feedback, and competition).

Motivators can be either extrinsic (i.e. driven by external rewards like money), intrinsic (i.e. inherently rewarding), or a combination of the two.

Therefore, as we explain below, we have integrated a variety of motivators into Brightmile to ensure that we are able to engage drivers with a variety of personalities.

Gamification in action

Statistics supporting gamification are powerful, especially in the workplace, where gamification has been shown to make 90% of employees significantly more productive and 95% of employees who use gamified systems say they enjoy them. Happier staff are more engaged staff, it would seem.

But improving road and fleet safety is challenging. We must change habits, many of which our users developed when they learned to drive, and counter temptations like rushing from A to B or checking a text message whilst on the move.

One industry that sets an example we can learn from is the health and fitness industry. Over the last decade, it has used gamification to change habits and improve lives. By allowing users to track, record and compare their fitness achievements with friends and strangers, Strava adds a million new users every 40 days.

Health and fitness apps elevate difficult tasks into an opportunity to compete with yourself (beat your last time) and others (beat your best friend) and declare to the world that you’ve been for a run. These motivations mean people are getting fitter and bad habits are changing.

Something similar is gradually coming to health insurance, spearheaded by Discovery Health’s Vitality programme, as part of which customers’ health-related activity is recorded and incentivised. For example, a customer visiting the gym earns points that contribute to her Vitality status.  As her Vitality status improves, she can access increasing discounts for leisure and travel activities, as well as earning vouchers for coffees or smoothies if she achieves weekly activity goals. A global success, this “shared value” approach to health insurance has other insurers scrambling to replicate it.

Gamification and Brightmile

Like getting fit, we know that Brightmile users want to drive safely but sometimes find it hard to change their driving habits. We believe that for the vast majority of drivers the carrot trumps the stick, so we have prioritised tapping into a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to reward, incentivise and positively reinforce safe behaviour.

The first technique we use is to clearly lay out our assessment of a driver’s performance, and how they are doing over time and against a relevant benchmark. In our last blog post, we set out 'The 5 Pillars of Brightmile' - each of these is an objective measurement of performance that can be easily understood by drivers and managers.

This may sound simple but is a powerful base motivator that taps into our need for ‘Development & Accomplishment’. Think about Apple’s recent introduction of the ‘Weekly Screen time Report’. This tells an iPhone user their average screen time per day over the last week, and how it compares to the previous week - simple, objective data visualisation that engages and empowers a user to monitor their behaviour and ‘self-coach’ to adapt it accordingly.

Screen Time

Arguably a bit more exciting for both drivers and company managers is our concept of the “brightmile”, our new safe driving currency that brings elements of what Vitality are doing in the health space into workplace driving.

For every mile driven without any breach across any of the ‘5 Pillars’, drivers are awarded one brightmile. Bonus brightmiles are also awarded alongside trophies for completion of various tasks and challenges, such as going a whole week without any speeding.

At the end of each month, drivers have two options for how to use their accumulated brightmiles: (1) enter them into a raffle to win a prize (e.g. an Amazon voucher), or (2) club together with colleagues and other drivers to exchange them for a charitable donation. The brightmile also facilitates friendly rivalry between colleagues, which we will add to over time with group challenges and other initiatives that tap into social influence and competitiveness as a motivator.

Rewards and Trophies in the Brightmile App
Rewards and Trophies in the Brightmile App

We at Brightmile are funding these rewards because we believe that they are fundamental to our goal of achieving a material improvement in driver safety.

And the opportunity to donate brightmiles to charity has been resonating with drivers who are more motivated by intrinsic than extrinsic factors. But packaging safe driving together with charitable donations has also inspired our corporate customers who see the potential to enhance their CSR agendas.

One of the challenges of implementing a safe driving programme is that it requires a project sponsor to secure broad internal support for a change management programme that can seem daunting. There are many aspects of working with Brightmile that mitigate these challenges: from our tried and tested roll-out process, elimination of logistical hassle, and cost effective price point. But we are also offering customers the chance to designate their own charity and top up the safe driving rewards pot, thus creating a powerful internal argument to facilitate implementation and boost project and stakeholder recognition.

If we want to achieve our goals at Brightmile, we need to change bad habits that are deeply entrenched within millions of people. Gamification is more than a buzzword - it’s one of the most important tools at our disposal that can make our roads safer and save lives.

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