Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the city’s “Safest Driving Competition” at a press conference Monday. The contest, held in partnership with Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) and the Arbella Insurance Foundation, builds on Boston’s involvement in the national Vision Zero initiative, which aims to do away with crashes that cause serious injuries or death by 2030.
Boston’s Safest Driver is a smartphone app-based competition that can win the safest drivers in the city more than $9,000 in prizes, Kristin Toussaint wrote for Metro.us.
The app tracks five behaviors every time you drive, and ranks users against each other, Simón Rios wrote for WBUR. The behaviors include:
- Rapid acceleration
- Harsh braking
- Sharp turns
- At-risk speeding
- Being distracted by your phone
The Mayor’s Office for the City of Boston writes that after the driver has arrived at a destination, the app displays the score for that trip in various metrics, and gives the driver tips for improvement.
Distracted Driving Deaths
In 2014, throughout the United States, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 people injured in motor vehicle accidents involved distracted drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Noting that crashes killed 23 people in Boston in 2015, Walsh said:
Distracted [driving] is one of the biggest risks that we have today, in large part due to cellphone use. Boston has a history of aggressive drivers. I don’t know if we’re really worse or better than other cities, but I know we need to make sure that we bring change.
A major goal of the competition is to encourage drivers to reflect on their driving habits, especially phone-related distractions. Harry Balakrishnan, Chief Technology Officer at CMT, suggested that the idea of a smartphone app that helps prevent crashes might surprise people, because many people blame smartphones for increasing distracted driving. But, the Safest Driver app uses phone sensors to measure distraction and other factors in risky driving.
Safe Driving Competition
Drivers who live in the greater Boston metropolitan area can enter the competition by downloading the app from the Google Play or iTunes app stores. CMT, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, developed the app, donating its services.
The competition, which runs through December 3, features prizes funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation. The grand prize is $2,000. There are also a dozen weekly prizes in categories such as being the best new driver and taking car-free trips.
In a related item, CMT said Massachusetts drivers came out slightly ahead (2%) in the EverDrive Safe Driving Challenge, a competition earlier this year between drivers in Massachusetts and ones in New York.
EverDrive is a safe-driving app that CMT and EverQuote developed together. It measures driving speed, phone use, braking acceleration, and cornering to help improve driving. Consistent users of the app showed significant improvements within just days of using the app, according to CMT.
EverDrive found that nationally, phones distract drivers for almost half a mile per trip. In Massachusetts and New York, drivers were distracted for one-third of all trips, 3.5 times on average. Nationally, those two states ranked in the bottom 10 in speeding; their drivers go at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit for half the time they are driving.