TTI study shows locally-based app helping reduce distracted driving

Image Source: Pixabay / MGN
Image Source: Pixabay / MGN(KALB)
Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 5:20 PM CST
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A new study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute says an app launched right here in Aggieland is helping reduce distracted driving.

The study looked at the driving habits of teenagers and high school students in Fort Bend County and said their behavior changed for the better after using the app. Researchers found that of the high school population there was a 14.8 % decrease in phone usage after use of the app Safe 2 Save. For the overall teenage population, there was a 21% decrease in phone usage after they used the app.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 2017 3,166 people were killed because of distracted driving. Safe 2 Save discourages using your phone while driving and provides rewards.

"I get free meals and free drinks and free hotel rooms and all sorts of great things by using certain apps," said Devan O'Neal, a mother of two from Marquez.

She knows how simple it is to be distracted behind the wheel.

"It's easy to be distracted. It's easy to pick up your phone and reply to that text. I know that I haven't always done the best job at not texting and driving but I can say the last four or five years where we've had more of the awareness brought up and we can understand the dangers," she said.

"The behavior is actually changing because of this particular app," said Suzanne Badger, Media and Government Relations Liaison with Safe 2 Save.

They recently partnered with The Texas A&M Transportation Institute to study how the app changes driver behavior. They also recently partnered with Texas A&M and Century Square for a competition to reduce distracted driving.

"We had 5,995 participants that gave us 2.3 million minutes driven un-distracted which is equal to 38,880 hours of driven un-distracted," she said.

"People don't really understand or have the concept of how in the blink of an eye it can change by taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone," said Mary Jo Prince with the Brazos Valley Injury Prevention Coalition at the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.

"Changing your playlist, sending a text, posting to Facebook posting to any of the social media that has become so popular. And with popularity comes risks and those risks involved distracted driving," said Prince.

It's technology moms like Devan hope more drivers will use.

"It's not worth it and it can wait," she said.

TxDOT said one in five crashes are caused by distraction. Safe 2 Save is free to download.