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…
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.