You tell yourself that you’ll only check Instagram at the red light, or change your Spotify while driving alone on cruise control through Alligator Alley.
But those few seconds can be deadly for South Florida drivers. In fact, distracted driving causes about 50,000 crashes per year in Florida, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
MIT computer science professor Sam Madden wants to change that. Madden co-developed the free safe driving app DriveWell, which uses sensors to record when a driver picks up and engages with the phone, breaks harshly or speeds while driving.
Now says he would like to expand the app to South Florida and give drivers incentives to use it. Some of those incentives include discounts with local insurance companies and prizes for the least distracted driver while using the app.
“A typical way we like to do this is to have a partner like an insurance company, or somebody else who is interested in safe driving, who might put out some prize money,” he said.
The app is currently partnering with San Antonio, Seattle and Boston for these “safest driver contests.”
“I think we’re all guilty of this – you get sucked into your phone, and what you thought was going to be a quick text message or checking your email turns into 10 minutes of you checking your inbox,” Madden said. “That’s a really important behavior, just to make people aware of that, and the app tries to show that behavior really clearly.”