Dash Drive Smart app, courtesy of DashA New York-based company called Dash, creators of a tiny eponymous device that turns any car made after 1996 into a “smart” car, has signed a deal with the New York City Department of Transportation for a one-year driving safety pilot program, as James O’Brien writes for Mashable. Dash’s core mission for the program, called “Drive Smart,” is to make the streets safer by “leveraging emerging technologies,” co-founder Jamyn Edis told O’Brien.

Drive Smart also aims to increase efficiency by reducing traffic congestion and decreasing its environmental impact on the streets of New York City, O’Brien reports. He quotes Edis as saying Dash finds New York Department of Transportation executives to be “very open, very efficient, and very progressive in their thinking.” The technology will be tested for a year by 500 drivers in the city, some of them city employees, O’Brien writes.

The information that Dash’s smartphone app provides helps drivers improve their behind-the-wheel skills by providing scores based on driving behaviors such as hard-braking and over-accelerating, as a Dash press release says. The statement goes on to say: “And no more ‘Check Engine Light’ anxiety — Dash tells you what is wrong in real time, plus the severity and cost to fix at nearby mechanics.”

The app gives drivers suggestions for better driving habits and maintenance that can save drivers 15-20% annually on the costs of gasoline, repairs, and maintenance, the release says. That includes suggestions for where the cheapest gas is nearby. Dash estimates it can help most American drivers to save $1,500 per year.

The device itself — which plugs into the dashboard and sends information wirelessly, via Bluetooth, to its free smartphone app — costs $10, and pays for itself in a week, Dash says in the press release. The device was tested for 18 months before it launched, over 5 million miles in 30 countries and in thousands of car models, another press release notes.

O’Brien writes that the device is the same plug-in that auto mechanics can use to determine what a car’s computer says about the vehicle. The app alerts drivers about their driving behaviors primarily by audio messages on their smartphones.

Although Edis told O’Brien that the system is designed to conform to U.S. and international guidelines on driver distraction, O’Brien reports that it is “built around a somewhat gamified environment, one in which the app scores a driver based on his or her choices.” The top score would be 100, the release says.

In addition to helping drivers improve their safety, the app and device work together to help cities, O’Brien writes. Because Dash provides data on when and where traffic gets congested, cities using the program will be able to “see new quantities of street-level data about congestion and incidents — potentially suggesting changes to infrastructure that bring additional safety and cost savings,” he writes.

Dash has an API (application programming interface) available for third-party developers — dubbed a Chassis API — and invites accredited developers to sign up to help build its “Automotive Graph,” an open platform for the road, to maker driving safer for everyone. Developers can write to Dash at [email protected]

You can download the Dash app here. It is currently available for Android phones and will be available for iOS smartphones soon, Dash’s site says.

You can see a video about Dash here:

Dash – Mobile – Driving – Demo from Jamyn Edis on Vimeo.

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