Are you the safest driver? An app will decide that

Are you the safest driver? An app will decide that

LINCOLN – Do you wait too long to hit the brake? Is a lead foot your bad habit? Do you get easily distracted by your phone while driving?

How would you feel if an app was tracking each and every one of those actions?

A contest to discover Rhode Island’s safest driver, hosted by Amica Mutual Insurance and Cambridge Mobile Telematics, will track driving behavior using a mobile application. Opening this week and running through April 7, the overall safest and least distracted drivers will receive biweekly prizes of $500 and grand prizes of up to $10,000.

Hari Balakrishnan, CMT’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said it’s his company’s mission to make the roads safer by using sensing technology and behavioral science.

“We believe safe drivers are made, not born,” he said, adding that this the first time CMT has conducted a statewide contest.

Balakrishnan said distracted driving is proliferating, noting that it’s the top reason people are afraid on the road, with 46 percent of drivers reporting distracted driving as their top fear behind the wheel, more than reckless driving and drunk driving. By harnessing smartphone technology, they’re flipping the script to make driving safer.

To sign up, download the free Rhode Island’s Safest Driver app in the App Store or Google Play. After registration, the app will begin to monitor and score driving behaviors including speeding, cornering, hard-braking, harsh acceleration and phone distraction. The app includes a live score and leaderboard to keep track of the standings.

The total prize money is broken down as follows:

• Two first-prize winners of $10,000

• Two second-prize winners of $5,000

• Two third-prize winners of $3,000

• Eight additional winners of $500

The app is centered on CMT’s DriveWell platform, used by insurance companies, fleets, cellular carriers and other organizations in more than 20 countries. Balakrishnan said privacy is very important to the company, which only uses sensor data that phones already pick up on in order to detect what a driver is doing. For example, if your phone rings while you’re driving and you reach over to pick it up to see who is calling, the app will register that motion as a distraction and dock points from your overall score.

Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements Jr. commended Amica and CMT for partnering to combat distracted driving. In his 30-plus years as a Providence Police officer, Clements said he’s seen and experienced countless tragedies related to distracted driving. “We live their pain and horror … your life can change on a dime,” he said.

Clements said he fully supports the contest, as his department supports any initiative promoting safety.

“I’m always fascinated by new technology that comes out to promote the work we do in the police world,” he added.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Pare said the contest is a great way to reward people for good behavior versus handing out a ticket for bad behavior behind the wheel.

“We need to grow programs like this so people are made aware of their driving behavior and change it,” he said.

Bob DiMiccio, Amica’s chairman, president and CEO, said safe driving contests like this one can help incentivize R.I. drivers to focus on their driving habits, recognize areas for improvement and ultimately make the roads safer. “It’s an issue that impacts all of us,” he said.

The contest is available to all Rhode Island drivers. Each trip must either begin or end in the state to qualify for the contest, and participants need to track a minimum of 10 trips covering 100 miles to qualify.

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