Smart Phone Application Oriented Towards Younger Drivers Finds Up to 41 Percent Reduction in the Percentage of Distracted Trips Once Incentives Were Put in Place.
Deployment of a Smart Phone App Offering Rewards for Phone-Free Driving Among Youths in Texas Finds Significant Decrease in Distracted Driving Behaviors.
Date Posted

Analysis of an Incentive-Based Smartphone Application for Young Drivers

Summary Information

Traffic crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional youth fatalities and injuries across the USA. This study demonstrated the results from an incentive-based, free-to- download smart phone application (app) with the core feature of a reward system, in which drivers earn points for miles driven without any phone interaction, and then redeem them for rewards. This study examined data collected from two distinct app deployments in Texas; one in 2017 and one in 2018, each spanning several months. The datasets collected during the two deployments included over 12,200 trips and more than 100,000 miles logged by about 200 volunteer users of the app with the incentives put in place (first deployment) and 138 users (second deployment). Drivers of all ages were allowed to download and use the app; however, only users aged 15 to 24 were eligible for rewards.

Participants for the app deployment received five points for every distraction-free mile that was driven over the course of a trip. If a distraction-free trip was completed, users received a “thank you note” for being a safe driver, and their total points earned for the trip were logged. If any interaction with the phone was detected while a trip was active, users received a note at the end of the trip indicating that no points were awarded and the trip was also logged, showing how many points were lost due to a distraction. Statistical analyses were performed to assess the influence of incentives on the frequency of distracted driving. 

Results from the First Deployment:

  • Results from the initial deployment indicated up to ten percent points reduction in the percentage of distracted trips once the incentives were put in place (reduction from 24 percent to 14 percent comparing pre- and post-incentive data for a 41 percent change).
  • The first deployment results also suggested that the influence of incentives was strongest and statistically significant among females and those over the age of 18.

Results from the Second Deployment:

  • Results from the second deployment of the app showed that the use of the app was associated with significant changes (90 percent confidence level) in phone use frequency while driving. 
  • The results also showed that the real-time feedback from the app with a reward system had the potential to reduce the frequency and/or habit of phone use while driving among certain groups. Female drivers exhibited a statistic significant 27 percent decrease (from 0.070 to 0.051)  in the median number of phone use distractions per mile in their last 10 trips compared to their first 10 trips. 
  • Similarly, drivers aged 15 to 17 (in general) showed a significant 19 percent decrease (from 0.064 to 0.052) in the median number of phone use distractions per mile in their last 10 trips compared to their first 10 trips.
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