The activation of eco-driving mental models: can text messages prime drivers to use their existing knowledge and skills?

Pampel, Sanna M., Jamson, Samantha L., Hibberd, Daryl and Barnard, Yvonne (2017) The activation of eco-driving mental models: can text messages prime drivers to use their existing knowledge and skills? Cognition, Technology & Work, 19 (4). pp. 743-758. ISSN 1435-5566

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Eco-driving campaigns have traditionally assumed that drivers lack the necessary knowledge and skills and that this is something that needs rectifying. Therefore, many support systems have been designed to closely guide drivers and fine-tune their proficiency. However, research suggests that drivers already possess a substantial amount of the necessary knowledge and skills regarding eco-driving. In previous studies, participants used these effectively when they were explicitly asked to drive fuel-efficiently. In contrast, they used their safe driving skills when they were instructed to drive as they would normally. Hence, it is assumed that many drivers choose not to engage purposefully in eco-driving in their everyday lives. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of simple, periodic text messages (nine messages in 2 weeks) on drivers’ eco- and safe driving performance. It was hypothesised that provision of eco-driving primes and advice would encourage the activation of their eco-driving mental models and that comparable safety primes increase driving safety. For this purpose, a driving simulator experiment was conducted. All participants performed a pre-test drive and were then randomly divided into four groups, which received different interventions. For a period of 2 weeks, one group received text messages with eco-driving primes and another group received safety primes. A third group received advice messages on how to eco-drive. The fourth group were instructed by the experimenter to drive fuel-efficiently, immediately before driving, with no text message intervention. A post-test drive measured behavioural changes in scenarios deemed relevant to eco- and safe driving. The results suggest that the eco-driving prime and advice text messages did not have the desired effect. In comparison, asking drivers to drive fuel-efficiently led to eco-driving behaviours. These outcomes demonstrate the difficulty in changing ingrained habits. Future research is needed to strengthen such messages or activate existing knowledge and skills in other ways, so driver behaviour can be changed in cost-efficient ways.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Driving simulator; Behavioural change; Priming; Text messages; Eco-driving; Mental models; Fuel efficiency
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Engineering
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 13:34
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:54

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