Worldwide, about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic accidents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Smartphone distraction” is blamed for an increasing number of accidents. Drivers using a mobile phone are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, the WHO says.
That is why a growing number of technology entrepreneurs are trying to tackle the problem.
“Although smartphones are rightly blamed for an increase in distracted driving, we wanted to show that smartphones could be used to make drivers better,” says Hari Balakrishnan, chief technology officer of Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a US company that has developed an app called DriveWell.
The app measures all aspects of driving such as hard braking, abrupt acceleration, sharp cornering and speeding.
But it also monitors how often drivers are distracted by their phones and generates a “safety score” at the end of each trip.
The company emerged from a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology run by Mr Balakrishnan and co-founder Sam Madden.
The free app features competition leader boards that enable drivers to compete with their friends, family and colleagues, as well as personalised safer driving tips.