One very small object is not only the cornerstone of our lives these days, but the root of a huge problem: Cell phones, which are typically to blame for car accidents of all stripes.
The US Department of Transportation reports that people who text and drive are about “more than 20 times more likely” to crash their cars than those who are not, which is why education and public safety campaigns against distracted driving, such as AT&T’s It Can Wait, are so important. And, of course, it’s not just a US problem.
For 13 consecutive years, Japan’s Aichi Prefecture has had the country’s highest rate of traffic fatalities. Last year alone, 44,369 injuries or deaths were attributed to cellphone use while driving, and 50,101 people were arrested for using their phones while driving.
Toyota, for one, has had enough and would like the good people of Aichi to stop using their phones while driving. And it’s doing it in the most modern way possible: creating an app — not to be used while driving, of course — with key partners.
The new Driving Barista app, a partnership between Toyota, Komeda and KDDI Corporation, uses ramification to create a fun incentive to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and eyes on the road in Aichi Prefecture, the target area for the campaign.
The app rewards drivers with free coffee in exchange for not using their phones while in the car. Through the wonders of the gyro sensor and GPS, the app can track how long the driver has gone without picking up the device.
Drive 100 kilometers (62 miles) without touching your phone and you will earn a free cup of blended or iced coffee at Komeda’s coffee shops. The reward kicks in after 100 km the first time, and every 200 km thereafter.
It’s not just monitoring the driver’s phone while the car is in motion—any use of a smartphone, regardless of whether the car is moving or stopped at a traffic signal, for example, is counted as “use of a smartphone while driving.”
“In line with contributing to the ultimate goal of achieving zero traffic fatalities and zero traffic accidents, Toyota has implemented automobile safety measures as one of its top priority management concerns,” says Toyota’s managing officer, Shuichi Murakami. “By carrying out a new traffic safety education initiative together with Komeda and KDDI, we hope to further reduce traffic accidents.”
Other apps around the world include JoyRyde and SafeDrive, which both offer redeemable gifts for those who drive certain distances without using their phones, AutoBlog reports. Drivers should also remember that overcaffeinating and driving past the point of exhaustion is also a recipe for an accident.