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Road Relax

Road Rage? Road Relax!

MA 2023
RoadRage, FutureMobility, AutonomousCars, Insurance

A service design project to solve road rage by improving drivers' experience and lowering their premiums. We monitor their driving data and analyse their driving habits in order to develop their driving skills and reduce their road rage. Based on the driver's daily performance, the less road rage detected, the lower premiums you will pay.

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Hazards of road rage

Have you ever seen in life or on social media:  a driver keeps honking for slow traffic? Or a driver shouts, swears, and hits the steering wheel because of being cut in line?  Or a driver goes crazy, and the car becomes a weapon, causing damage on the road? All these scenarios are about road rage, which means anger or violent behaviour caused by someone else's bad driving or the stress of being in heavy traffic. 

From our research, two-thirds of UK drivers had experienced road rage, which results in 35 billion pounds in losses every year. In a single year of twenty twenty-three, two thousand two hundred and eighty accidents reported are caused by road rage, in which, there are many extreme cases and one thousand two hundred and seven killed or seriously injured. 

causes of road rage

We interviewed 14 drivers in London, including professional and non-professional drivers, and we found that most drivers get angry more or less regardless of gender and age, because the traffic is usually out of their expectation, in terms of time, driving manner...

After empathising with irritable drivers, we found there are two kinds of road rage: personal and environmental. A driver could be affected by one individual or many causes.  Most causes, like age or personality, are difficult to change. While, we hope to make an impact on other causes like driving experience and perception, limited communication... By doing this, we want to intervene in those causes and reduce their negative effects on drivers to prevent them from anger. Different causes make up thousands of road rage scenes. For example, traffic jams can cause serious road rage because of surprising road work and a tight deadline. 

From road rage scenes, we found the 3 underlying causes of road rage. 

First, drivers lack information. They sometimes miss the key information, leading to misunderstanding and anger. For example, they may feel frustrated in a traffic jam because they don't know there is road work ahead.

Second, drivers lack preparation. They are not prepared for surprises, thus leading to shock and emotional driving. For instance, drivers tend to be emotional when there is a pedestrian suddenly coming out. 

Third, drivers lack a sense of control. When incidents become out of control, drivers would feel that their personal interests are influenced, so they intend to be emotional. Lane switching without signals may make drivers feel a threat to their safety. 


If we want drivers to reduce road rage, we need to learn about road rage and make drivers more aware of that. Firstly, what can we do to detect road rage?

According to Euro New Car Assessment Programme, which is an independent organisation that evaluates new cars' safety, Driver Monitoring System (DMS) is now a requirement for any new car model launched on the European market from January 2023. For older cars, they can be installed with DMS as well. Now DMS is used for assessing the driver's alertness and warning the driver if needed. However, shortly, infrared cameras can also be used for analysing drivers' emotions with more advanced facial expression tracking software and higher image processing capability. Based on those, firstly DMS is now required on all new car models, secondly, DMS can be used for analysing driver's emotions, so technically it is feasible to detect road rage. This is useful for helping them to be aware of road rage and reduce it later. 

When thinking of how to reduce road rage, we fantasised about the world of autonomous cars. When all cars can drive themselves, there would be no human drivers and corresponding road rage. Most car companies are developing their products towards more advanced automation; and now most cars are between Level 1 and Level 2 autonomous driving, which means most vehicles only achieved "hands off". Therefore, our project has many years ahead to provide a better experience for drivers. And we could help them to reduce the conflicts of different levels of autonomous cars and gradually adapt to full automation. 

To design a desirable service, we want to know who cares about road rage. Who can benefit or lose from it? We researched different stakeholders like car companies, automation developers, family and friends and so on. We found that there is more value in insurance, because it can be a big cost for a driver, and road rage is a significant factor in premiums. 

We took a deeper look into car insurance and found a few problems. A driver would have a higher premium if they are younger, indicating that they are inexperienced and more irritable. However, age is not an absolute factor in road rage and driving skills. Most insurers have a way of thinking that they increase a driver's premium if they have negative driving records. This makes drivers feel a sense of punishment. For example, now many insurers have their black box insurance service, which is a GPS device installed in cars and tracking driving data like position, speed, braking, cornering and so on. This is positive for drivers who want to prove themselves and have lower premiums, but this may create burdens for users, like passively avoiding driving at night. 

We also found some opportunities for our project. What about a new way of thinking for the insurance industry that there is no punishment but only incentives to attract more users? We can help drivers to evolve by making them aware of their shortage and develop better driving skills and habits, thus they can drive with more rationality and ultimately lower their premiums. By doing this, in the macro view, there would be fewer potential insurance claims, fewer costs for insurers, and further reduced premiums in the long term. This would be a beneficial loop and gradually adapt to more advanced automation.  

Solution to road rage

Based on all the information we have, we come to this: 

How might we support drivers who want to reduce road rage, understand their driving habits, and reshape their driving behaviour in order to reduce insurance premiums and improve their driving experience? (before fully-autonomous vehicles arrive)

We use DMS or fitted devices to monitor driving so that drivers can share data with insurers. Then drivers can get driving advice, understand their driving habits, and improve their driving behaviours. The less road rage detected and the advice you get, the more reliable you are. Finally, the insurer will provide lower premiums for the better-performing drivers. 

If a driver shows good driving behaviours and commitment, they can be Road Relax Honoured Drivers. It is a very cool award, and only very polite and rational drivers can get it. Then they can drive with an exclusive sticker on their cars, representing they are approved, awarded, and respected drivers. 

There is a second incentive structure, reward points. Drivers can decide whether the shared data is to be used for further development of intelligent mobility or not. If a driver agrees with that, he can get reward points which could be redeemed for after-market service, like car washing and charging. Also, if a driver becomes an honoured driver, he can earn exclusive bonus points, which means we encourage a driver to try his best to reduce road rage, improve driving habits, and become an honoured driver.

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