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The "speed camera lottery" in Sweden

In Stockholm, there was a speed camera lottery where drivers were awarded prizes if they drove under the speed limit. Can you imagine winning thousands just for driving?

The speed lottery in Sweden
The speed lottery in Sweden

Can you imagine having a chance to win money simply for driving correctly and obeying the rules as you do every day? In Sweden, this was once a reality and was called the "speed camera lottery".

This lottery was tested in Stockholm, and the concept was subsequently tested in other Swedish cities.

The test was a collaboration between the Swedish road safety organization NTF and the Volkswagen car company. The initiative stemmed from an initiative launched by VW to find "fun" ways to change driving behavior.

Their idea was to find drivers for speeding in the normal way, but also to reward motorists who drove below the speed limit. Those drivers would be entered into a lottery to win cash prizes, yes real money, funded by the proceeds earned by drivers who exceeded the speed limit.

In a YouTube video, Kevin Richardson explained that his idea was to see if he "could get people to respect the speed limit for fun."

The initial experiment was conducted in Stockholm over three days at the end of September 2010, according to a press report, which named one Bengt Holmström as the winner of the top cash prize of 20,000 Swedish kronor, about €1929, not bad.

The head of the NTF at the time of the initiative, Jan Sandberg, told AAP FactCheck that five people won cash prizes during the test: in addition to the winner of the top cash prize, four drivers won SEK 10,000 each.

However, Sandberg confirmed that there are no programs like the speed camera lottery in Sweden, which was a one-off initiative. "That's because the authorities and politicians didn't follow through with the idea," he commented.

"The reason for the project was to also combine a positive touch to road safety. We have a saying that you have to use both the 'whip and the carrot' to get the best result from the people."

"For this project we got funding from Volkswagen in Sweden; the project was also part of their campaign on positive thinking."

Over the course of the initial three-day test, nearly 25,000 cars were caught on camera, according to the YouTube video. The average speed of cars driving through the school zone dropped from 32 km/h before the test to 25 km/h during the experiment.

In May and June 2011, the lottery was tested in five other Swedish cities. Helsingborg, Kalmar, Karlstad, Gävle and Umeå, according to Volkswagen.

However, during the various tests, the prize money was not collected from motorist fines for speeding, as originally conceived.

Richardson, who came up with the idea for the lottery, confirmed that the speed camera lottery was no longer running.

He said the experiment probably ended because of the cost of moving it to different locations to ensure the novelty didn't wear off.

"I thought, Is there something I can apply to gaming that will actually help people?" explained Richardson, who learned about the Fun Theory contest at a time when he was concerned about speeding tickets in the U.S. and the rate of children being run over on their way to school.

"I've been contacted by governments all over the world (asking) how we can do this (speed camera lottery) as well."

Undoubtedly a different and creative initiative to contribute to road safety.

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