Rewarding the Responsible

Varad R

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Reckless driving is a worldwide phenomenon which has numerous causes and even more casualties. Whether it be texting, eating or applying make-up while driving, all of these boil down to distracted involvement on the roads, the same roads also used by millions of others who will be affected by one reckless driver. Not to mention the fellow passengers of the driver; they will undoubtedly face severe consequences for reckless actions of the driver in charge. As they say, one bad fish can spoil the whole pond.


Absentminded participation for an activity that affects everyone is the epitome of irresponsibility and if human history has demonstrated something acutely, it is that the best remedy for irresponsible behavior is a reward system. Humans are by nature constantly calculating the profits and losses that their actions will yield for them. The very purpose of law is to utilize this inherent facet of humans to give them an incentive to act a certain way. However, law has its limits. As law must never infringe on constitutional rights to maintain democracy, there are restrictions on what can be done as punishment (as should be of course), but this does lower potential for incentive. Not only that, but most laws are based on the idea of punishment for bad behavior, which is negative conditioning. Positive conditioning, in my personal opinion, always triumphs negative conditioning.


This brings us to rewards. Profitable outcomes for good actions is everywhere in our society, or at least the idea of it is commonly understood. Credit scores of credit cards, for examples, encourage responsible transactions for better financial results in the long term future. Along the same lines, if responsible driving is rewarded, much of it will be eliminated. Since spreading awareness is too far basic to make any real change and excessive government control is far too extreme to be productive, positive reinforcement is also the perfect balance. The reward can certainly be monetary, though it doesn’t need to be. For example, a tax cut, the percent depending on how well one drove. Coupons/gift cards are another example but these won’t work as they include private institutions; the government and private sector won’t work well together as I see things. As mentioned previously, the reward doesn’t have to monetary but it has to be something that stands out properly and can ideally be practically applicable and measured.


As for how one will prove their responsible behavior, I’m not the entrepreneurial thinker to solve that. Obviously, one can’t fix cameras in their cars and likely, most wouldn’t want to do that either. However, in this digital age, there are certainly many possible ways to counter this issue. We have apps that record daily screen time (I have some experience with that… thanks, dad), so there are definitely brilliant minds out there who can create tools which can measure quality of driving and distinguish responsible drivers from reckless ones.