Principles of behavioral economics have been used to change human behavior effectively in a variety of disciplines. For the field of transportation, however, there have only been a few cases where behavioral economics was applied to change behavior in randomized field experiments. In the current study, the authors aimed to increase vehicle inspection behavior among carsharing users, as an example to apply behavioral principles to transportation. Specifically, they developed a simple nudge in the form of a reminder card to visually remind users to inspect the vehicle prior to their trip. The effects of the card were tested in a randomized field experiment by observing and interviewing users of a carsharing service. The authors found that significantly more users inspected the vehicle in the presence of the reminder card, compared to a control group where no card was used. Over four weeks, the improvement in inspection behavior was constant. Critically, the inspection increased even in the absence of the reminder card in the last two weeks of the experiment in one of the two observation sites, revealing a persistence effect of the reminder card. The current study not only demonstrates the effectiveness of a simple reminder based on the behavioral principle of salience, but also offers the potential to apply behavioral economics to the field of transportation.
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