According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.3 million people die each year from road accidents. Over 90% of deaths happen in low and middle income countries and it is the leading cause of deaths for young people (15-29).
In low income countries, more people die from accidents than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined! The recipe for addressing this issue is typically a combination of safer vehicles, lower speeds, and better roads.
In a recent paper Georgetown Professors James Habyarimana and William Jack report on a pilot field experiment in which sticker posters were placed in minibuses in Kenya, asking passengers to speak up if the driver was driving unsafely. The results are amazing.
The evidence shows that the intervention reduced the number of accidents leading to insurance claims by half and reduced claims involving injury by 60%.
Passenger heckling seems to work and is very cost effective. The authors have expanded this pilot to a full blown experiment and we should expect that the results are corroborated, although it will be interesting if the effect of providing monetary incentives for drivers to place stickers in the buses can be disentangled from the effects from the actual posting of the stickers
There are few things more annoying than a heckling passenger sitting next to you in a bus, but she can save your life.