App rewards drivers for not using their mobile

12.00 | 16 February 2017 | | 4 comments

A Dutch-based company has developed an app which incentivises drivers with rewards for not using their mobile phone while at the wheel.

SafeDrive, which has nearly 100,000 users globally, uses a ‘complex and proprietary algorithm’ to give points to the driver – as long as they aren’t using their device when the vehicle is travelling faster than 6mph.

Once a driver exceeds 6mph, the app launches a ‘Release’ button on the screen, effectively locking the phone. Pressing the release button while driving wipes out the points earned during that journey.

The points can be exchanged for discounted products and services that companies are offering in the ‘SafeDrive Marketplace’. The offers in the Marketplace vary from country to country.

By awarding drivers points, SafeDrive hopes the app can act as an incentive to drive responsibly and in turn, improve road safety.

The app was the subject of a BBC News feature on 14 February, in which the creator of the product, Tudor Cobalas, explained the story behind the product.

Mr Cobalas talks about his near-death experience while texting at the wheel – an event that inspired him to turn the smartphone from ‘a weapon of mass distraction into a tool for safer driving’.

Want to know more about mobile phones and road safety? 
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre


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    This goes against the use of a smart phone as one of the best sat navs with the best live traffic congestion information when mounted appropriately. Unless of course the use of certain apps cancels out the locking out algorithm.

    Hugh, Swansea
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    Rather than criticising initiatives like this, should we not be celebrating the fact that technology can be used for something positive. Of course it was not the phone that is the weapon of mass destruction, but by that logic neither was the car. The problem lies with the human being that is in control of the motor vehicle and also makes the decision to use a smartphone whilst driving. Anything that either incentivises people to change their behaviour, or at the very least gets them thinking about their behaviour and whether the way they behave might prove risky to them or others is a good thing in my book. Yes it may have limitations. Yes there may be issues relating to use by passengers (but once upon a time we all lived perfectly well without phones, so you know hey – perhaps the passenger may well find something else to engage their mind whilst travelling as a passenger?) But what is the alternative. Do we just allow humans to use their common sense and make a decision that may not be directly in their own best interest, but also in the best interest of all other road users who they may encounter? Yes that’s great in principle and in an ideal world this is all we would need to do, but the world is not ideal. Sometimes people feel that their own needs and wants outweigh the wider benefits. They might use their phone because in that moment it makes life easier for them. So, they may not always make a decision that is in the best interst of themselves and others from a road safety point of view so in my eyes, things like this app can only be a good thing.

    Becky, Leeds
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    So does using the mobile phone as a passenger also wipe out their points earned on a trip they are not driving on. Also can the app be turned off to stop it wiping out the points prior to using the mobile phone.

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    Smart phones seem to be getting a bad press – but mainly as a result of those who use them whilst driving. I note from the last para that Mr Cobalas considers them to be ‘a weapon of mass distruction’ – not the moving vehicle it was being used in at the time then? or the distracted driver even?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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