Why The App?
The app was developed by 30 year-old Romanian businessman Tudor Cobalas, after he nearly crashed while he was texting and driving at the same time.
Even though a personal experience was the trigger for the idea, the app has proven popular because it meets a need that has been recognised worldwide - the need to cut road accident deaths. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic accidents. In the European Union, the average number of road deaths per million inhabitants is 51.5, and WHO figures show that drivers using a mobile phone are four times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Smartphone distraction is now widely recognised as a cause of many accidents on UK roads. In November last year, for example, Police in England and Wales conducted a week-long campaign to catch and crack down on drivers using hand-held mobile phones while driving. This came just ahead of UK government plans to double fines and points for using a mobile phone while driving.
How Does The SafeDrive App Work?
The ‘SafeDrive’ app works by locking the phone as soon as the car exceeds 6mph (10kmh). If the app detects that the driver hasn’t released the lock by checking the phone during a journey, the driver is then rewarded with a number of points. These points can be converted into shopping discounts in the app’s own ‘SafeDrive Marketplace’.
If the driver presses the ‘Release’ button on the phone during the journey e.g. in order to check messages or take / make calls, the app wipes out any points that the driver had accumulated in the journey.
The voluntary SafeDrive app, which already has 10,000 users around the world, also has the backing of a wide variety of commercial partners, including retailers (for the SafeDrive Marketplace) and insurance companies.
Another App Aimed At Young Drivers.
Mr Cobalas has also developed another app aimed at teenage drivers. The ‘Milez’ app is intended to meet US parental concerns about the need to educate young drivers. The app offers positive reinforcement for safe driving behaviour in the form of financial rewards from relatives and friends.
More Similar Apps Available.
There are now several apps to help improve driving and prevent phone distraction while driving. The free DriveWell app from US company Cambridge Mobile Telematics, for example, gives drivers a safety score after each trip. High scores can earn drivers discounts on their car insurance with some insurers. The app also monitors how often drivers are distracted by their phones. More phone distractions mean a lower safety score.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As well as being refreshing to see a system that uses the phone itself as its own monitor, and uses incentives / positive reinforcement as motivator to change behaviour, the SafeDrive app and others like it could make the roads safer for all of us.
For your business in the UK, if you and your employees drive to and from work and( as part of your work) it is essential that a hands-free device is used for any calls, or that calls are only made or received when your vehicle is safely parked. Even checking texts constitutes a distraction.
The results of not heeding the law on this matter are not just the terrible human consequences, but also the potential damage to your business through driving penalties and reputational damage from the local publicity.