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General information
Type: Field operational test
Tested system/service: Autonomous Systems
Countries: The Netherlands ? test users
3 partners 62 vehicles
Active from 2003 to 2005
?URIs of the form "?" are not allowed.
Undine Mazureck
The Netherlands
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In 2003 the 'Belonitor' project was started. It is a study on the promotion of socially acceptable behaviour by rewarding motorists instead of punishing them. If this proves to increase traffic safety, the approach could be adopted by the private market. In the test phase 65 lease cars are being equipped with a device that records speeding and tailgating. Participants who drive properly will be rewarded.

Each year, tailgating and driving too fast are the cause of a great deal of irritation on the roads. Moreover, these violations often play a role in accidents and congestion. The Belonitor trial therefore focuses on two preferred modes of behavior: maintaining sufficient distance and keeping to the applicable maximum speed.

Details of Field Operational Test

Start date and duration of FOT execution

Geographical Coverage

The Netherlands

Link with other related Field Operational Tests


The most important objectives of the Department of Transport (DoT) in the Netherlands are to make Dutch freeways safer and less congested. More than 12.5% of all congestion is the result of incidents. Safer traffic will make a direct contribution to combating the congestion issue.

From the start, the Belonitor trial tried to create a win-win situation, where DoT traffic safety objectives were combined with the profit goals of lease companies. The project investigated and demonstrated the behavioral effects as well as the technical feasibility of rewarding desirable driving behavior. The trial is meant to encourage fleet owners, lease car companies and insurance companies to use similar methods, and is an example of how private companies and public authorities can work together on improving road safety.


The data obtained from surveys, interviews and the in-car system show feedback and rewarding to have a very strong positive effect on safe driving behavior. The trial also showed differences in how drivers handle speed and following distance. In the Belonitor trial, the DoT traffic safety objectives were successfully combined with the profit goals of the lease company.

Lessons learned

Quality of GPS

Car speed was deduced from the GPS signal because the Belonitor could not be connected to the vehicle’s own system. The GPS signal was not always available. Sometimes, for example, there were high buildings in the way or vehicles were parked in a garage. However, this did not affect the end result. In any subsequent trial it would be preferable for the speed meter to be connected to the vehicle’s own system.

Communication with vehicles – IDCS

There were sometimes problems with transmitting driving behavior by GPRS from vehicles to the IDCS because the physical transmission process itself took quite a lot of energy. Batteries had a tendency to go flat if vehicles were motionless for a long time.

Speed map

The digital speed map was 90% complete during the Belonitor trial. Before the trial the chance that the speed map would indicate too low a speed was seen as very small. During the trial participants complained about the speed information they were getting. The users’ level of fault acceptance, even in this voluntary trial, proved to be very low. The quality of the speed map must be improved.

Following distance

Participants reported that maintaining a headway time of 1.3 seconds had been difficult to achieve. This was illustrated by the rate of decline over time of following distance, which was considerably greater than the rate of decline of speed over time. Participants who maintained correct headway time often found other cars pulling in between them and the car in front. This was frustrating and did not encourage drivers to keep their distance. As a result, tailgating often became the norm. Of all the participants, 15% claimed to be driving “tactically” in the sense that they tried to combine the correct speed and distance in order to accumulate a maximum number of points. This suggests that the headway time is given should be changed. Traffic safety and road capacity have different concerns.

Fixed interval – variable interval

In the Belonitor trial, participants were rewarded for each interval of 15 seconds during which they drove correctly. In the short time available, it was not technically possible to introduce both fixed and variable intervals. The main problem was that it proved quite difficult to define “random.” One result of only having fixed intervals was that participants did not internalize their improved behavior.

Nevin has studied how often rewards need to be given to change behavior. When trying to promote the internalization of behavior, one of the key principles is that desired behavior should not be rewarded every time it occurs. This is called a “partial reinforcement program.” To change behavior in the long term, any subsequent trial should have a different interval definition.

Multiple stimuli

The aim of the Belonitor was to show that rewarding good behavior works, so both intrinsic (continuous in-car feedback) and extrinsic rewards (gifts) were used. From a research point of view, the fact that the stimuli were given at the same time made it difficult to undertake a systematic analysis of the effect of each stimulus separately. A different trial design should be considered if a clear picture of the effects of the individual stimuli is required.

Competitive element

The competition took on a role all of its own during the trial. The DOT expected that after two or three weeks this kind of stimulus would only continue to work for participants at or near the top of the group. The DOT therefore opted to incorporate four short competition phases of four weeks each into the trial. But even with these short durations, the participants found competition to be as much a frustrator as a motivator.

Main events


Summary, type of funding and budget

Cooperation partners and contact persons

  • Public Authorities: Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat)
  • Industry:
    • Vehicle Manufacturer:
    • Supplier: EMOVE V.O.F.
  • Users:
  • Universities:
  • Research Institutes:
  • Others (specify): LeasePlan Nederland N.V., Traffic Test.

Main Contact person

   Ms Undine Mazureck
   Pilot leader
   +31 (0)15 251 7425

Applications and equipment

Applications tested

In the Belonitor trial, customers were equipped with in-car technology. The driver’s speed and distance from the car in front were constantly monitored by the in-car system. Speed and distance were evaluated against the local speed limit and a predefined headway time. Figure 1 illustrates the definition of socially desirable driving behavior applied in the Belonitor trial. If there is no car in front, the following distance is regarded as neutral. In this case, only the driving speed is evaluated.

The trial group was rewarded for desirable driving behavior by LPNL. The result of the evaluation was shown immediately to the driver on the feedback display. The driver could then use this information to adjust his behavior. By driving safely the driver earned behavior points. These points were recorded every day in a central database, where they were converted using a formula into rewarding points. The participants were able to check out their points on a special Belonitor website. If they had any questions, complaints or malfunctions, the participants could consult the LPNL help desk.

The participants exchanged the rewarding points they earned for rewards, which they could look up in a catalog listing just over 100 different rewards. The rewards were indoor or outdoor experiences: active, cultural, sporting or simply relaxing. The participants also competed with each other every month to win first prize: a reward of 500 euros.


62 cars

Leased cars (LeasePlan Nederland N.V. (LPNL))

Equipment carried by test users


Test equipment

To enable it to evaluate driver behaviour, the DoT put the design and construction of an in-car system out to European tender.


Pre-simulation / Piloting of the FOT

Method for the baseline

1st Phase: pre-measurement:

The first part of the trial concentrated on pre-measurement. For 4 weeks, the trial group received no feedback about their behavior and no rewards. This phase measured the trial group’s neutral behavior. The information from this period was also used to set the evaluation parameters

2nd Phase: feedback and rewarding phase:

In the second phase, the trial group received 16 weeks of feedback about their following distance and speed. When they demonstrated positive behavior on both counts they earned points which could be converted into rewards. In addition to these rewards, there was also a competitive element with the participant of the month.

3rd Phase: post-measurement:

The final phase consisted of 4 weeks of post-measurement during which feedback was no longer provided and points could no longer be earned. In this phase, the trial participants’ behavior was measured and compared to the previous phases.

Techniques for measurement and data collection

GPRS was used as a means of communication between the cars and the IDCS (Intelligent Central Data Collection System). The cars transmitted the evaluation of the driving behavior and a status report, while the IDCS sent parameters and updates on the speed map to the cars. The behavior points shown on the feedback display were converted into rewarding points using a formula in the IDCS (Figure 5). The purpose of the formula was to discourage people from driving extra kilometers just to receive a reward.

Objective (logged data…):

The driver’s speed and distance from the car in front were constantly monitored by the in-car system.

The following distance was measured by a distance sensor originally designed for an ACC application but specially modified for this project. Due to the fact that the desirable distance depends on speed, the norm was set at 1.3 seconds headway time.

A Global Positioning System (GPS) unit measured driving speed. To determine whether the speed limit was being adhered to or not, a car’s GPS position was mapped on a speed map of the Netherlands. The speed map was specially produced for the trial. The data for the map was gathered from local road authorities. An Internet application was used to check and maintain the speed data (Speed Map Homepage. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Rotterdam.

The quality of the in-car data was checked every day when being read in. To do this, a quality control system was set up to check incoming data for range errors, inconsistency errors, the radar being out of action, and kilometers driven outside the Netherlands. Data found to contain errors (7%) were not included in the analysis. The remaining data (93%) were used for the analysis.

Subjective (questionnaires, focus groups…):

62 questionnaires for trial group and 150 questionnaires for reference group.

Recruitment goals and methods

Two different groups were defined for the trial.

Firstly, the trial group: this group had in-car equipment installed. Selection of the pilot group was based on certain characteristics:

  • be heavy users of the main road network;
  • not have a car with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), because this would make it too easy to earn rewards;
  • not be on vacation for more than 2 weeks during the trial period;
  • have a current e-mail address. This was to enable web questionnaires to be administered easily and efficiently, and to inform drivers.

Secondly, a reference group: this group had a role to play in testing the representativeness of the trial group, filtering external effects on the trial results, and estimating the actual and potential effects of the Belonitor. The people in the reference group were not given any technical equipment. They also came from the LPNL car fleet file and were not given any direct information about the trial. The trial group only differed from the reference group in a few areas:

  • age: the average age of the trial group was higher (47 years) than that of the reference group (41 years);
  • gender: the trial group was only 2% female; in the reference group 19% were female;
  • the trial group was less irritated than the reference group by other drivers’ behavior;
  • the trial group subscribed to reward schemes more often than the reference group.

There is no reason to believe that these differences have influenced the results of this trial.

Methods for the liaison with the drivers during the FOT execution

Methods for data analysis, evaluation, synthesis and conclusions

Sources of information