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ODOT’s new safe driving competition will use app that locks phone screen while driving

Posted by on August 1st, 2017 at 11:05 am

The app shows this screen when a car is in motion.

At this point the State of Oregon seems willing to try anything to change our dangerous culture of distracted driving.

To take a bite out of an alarming rise in traffic deaths last year — the 495 people who died was a 58 percent rise from 2013 — the Oregon Department of Transportation convened a task force and purchased unmarked patrol cars, published a report on the “epidemic”, and most recently the legislature acted to tighten a loophole in our existing distracted driving law.

Their latest effort will rely on friendly competition. Drive Healthy is the name of an initiative announced today that will pit individuals and organizations against each other to see who can be the safest driver. Similar to the Bike Commute Challenge, people will sign up online and have their results tracked via the Livesaver app and results will be posted on a public leaderboard. Once downloaded, the app runs in the background and automatically locks your phone when you drive (see screenshot at right). The fewer times you unlock the phone, the more points you get. The only functions available while driving are “Emergency Call” and “Passenger Unlock”.

Here’s more from ODOT and the DriveHealthy.org website:

When you register the app, you’ll pick the organization you are a part of, then the app scores on whether you unlock or use their phone while your vehicle is in motion. Less unlocking means a higher score. We’ll post the scores which are reset each month. Not only will we be able to see who the safest drivers are, but how behavior has changed…

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We gamify healthy driving by providing immediate feedback on safe driving behavior and creating competition to see which group can drive more safely—combining peer pressure with the present of an app silently watching behavior…

Immediate feedback does change behavior (think of the signs that tell you how fast you are going). Feedback on how safe you are driving will do the same thing

Cognitive Neuroscientist Ian Robertson says “success and failure shapes us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.” The desire to win can be an effective counter to the pleasure derived from using social media while driving. It’s called “gamification” and we feel this is a very powerful tool in the distracted driving arena.

Here’s the app screen that shows a participant’s results:

Oregon was inspired by a similar effort in Boston, where they say a safe driver competition resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving.

Oregon’s competition is also open to fleet vehicles, so we could see a competition between FedEx and UPS drivers if they were to sign up.

You can register now at DriveHealthy.org. You’ll get a reminder to download and start using the app on September 1st. The Drive Healthy campaign is being supported (so far) by AAA Oregon/Idaho, ODOT, the Oregon State Police, Oregon Association of Broadcasters, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, and LifeSaver.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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rachel bEl Bicicleromran1984David HampstenKevin Wagoner Recent comment authors
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bikeninja
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bikeninja

Maybe we can get insurance companies to require the use of a phone locking app to get auto insurance coverage, with a rider that says said insurance is null and void ( and illegal) if the safety app is found to be disabled by a constable or in the event of an accident.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Gamify.

Reed
Guest
Reed

This should be required (in some capacity) for Uber/Lyft driver apps.

MaxD
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MaxD

I get trying to find a positive, fun way to encourage safe driving, but man does the bar seem low: You get points by not opening your phone?! What about points for stopping at stop signs, not speeding, etc. Opening your phone should erase your points for the day.

Toadslick
Subscriber

This seems self-selecting to me. The drivers that are my biggest concern, who will speed and blow through crosswalks and pass dangerously to save a few precious seconds, don’t seem like the type to download a “Drive Healthy” app.

I’d have preferred that the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars that went into this program had gone into infrastructure instead.

9watts
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9watts

“Oregon was inspired by a similar effort in Boston, where they say a safe driver competition resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving. ”

But did it correspond to a 47 percent decline in crashes/injuries/fatalities that were classified as due to distracted driving? So many ways to screw around with statistics.

rachel b
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rachel b

I’m happy about anything that works, I guess. Feels like 9 times out of 10 anymore when I look at a driver, their head’s down. And they all just go faster and faster, the more cavalier they get about not looking at the road. It’s completely counterintuitive and cuckoo. People have ZERO sense of responsibility to the community, to the greater good. That quaint notion is just gone here, now.

Are we toddlers? We need a game that rewards us, simply to do the right thing? Isn’t staying alive and–BONUS!–not killing or endangering others reward enough? I hate the world.

Adam
Subscriber

At this point the State of Oregon seems willing to try anything to change our dangerous culture of distracted driving.

Anything but redesign our streets to prioritize people over cars, it seems.

emerson
Subscriber

Gamification of driving, just like gamification of biking (bike more challenge). Where’s the “eyes rolling” emoji?

Adam
Subscriber

LOL I love how ODOT’s solution to the problem of people using their phones while driving is a f*cking phone app!! Seriously, could not make this stuff up if I tried.

Andrew Kreps
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Andrew Kreps

“Oregon was inspired by a similar effort in Boston, where they say a safe driver competition resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving. ”

What that should have said is “resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving by those who downloaded and used the app.” I’m guessing that’s a pretty small number compared to the number of drivers on the road.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

This seems like asking a bunch of teetotalers to pledge not to drive drunk.

JeffS
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JeffS

Giving my personal information away for free? Sign me up.
Besides, I’m usually too busy putting on my makeup and eating something from the drive-thru to get more than halfway through my twitter feed.

austin
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austin

9watts
“Oregon was inspired by a similar effort in Boston, where they say a safe driver competition resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving. ”
But did it correspond to a 47 percent decline in crashes/injuries/fatalities that were classified as due to distracted driving? So many ways to screw around with statistics.
Recommended 4

I read that as:

“Oregon was inspired by a similar effort in Boston, where they say a safe driver competition resulted in a 47 percent decline in distracted driving. ” … of the app users

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Imagine if every cyclist asked drivers to “please put their phone down” every time they passed someone using said devices. It would shame 25% of drivers into changing their behavior. Perhaps the more vocal among us should begin doing this, because this app is garbage, and will do nothing to prevent dangerous driving behavior. I’ve used the AT&T app and it crashes my phone all the time, so much so, that I disabled it. I cant imagine ODOT’s app functioning any better.

Kevin Wagoner
Subscriber
Kevin Wagoner

My wife thought this up years ago with a slight twist. Insurance companies could do this and if you crash while on the phone you get some kind of penalty or forfeit your insurance since you weren’t being safe.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Now if only we could think of some way to reward people for not driving at all…