Using bribery to save lives? So crazy it might work.

Image via Flickr
Image via Flick

Last year, 1,193 people died on Australian roads and many, many more were injured. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the national road toll is that every single one of those deaths was preventable.

One third of all those who die in speeding-related accidents are young men, and 45 per cent of all injury-related deaths for young Australians take place on the road.

From shocking ads to heavy fines, we’re bloody negative when it comes to making young people drive smarter.


It’s not surprising. When you see someone recklessly endangering themselves for stupid reasons, it’s hard not to scream at them.

But the sad fact is, it doesn’t work.

Now, a new app is taking the opposite approach. Instead of using punishment, it’s bribing young drivers to lift their safety game. Developed by Samsung in partnership with car crash survivor Jarrad Ingram, S Drive rewards safe drivers with everything from movie passes and music downloads to festivals tickets and skiing trips.

The S Drive app is currently only available to those in the Hunter region, so if you know a Novocastrian P-plater, get them onto it.

The apps works on a points-based system. Available to green P-platers (those over 18 who have been provisional drivers for over 12 months and completed a couple of tests), drivers turn the app on before they start driving, then for every kilometre they drive at or under the speed limit, and don’t touch their phones, they accrue points. Those points are then used to ‘buy’ prizes, and the more points a driver has, the better the loot they get.

We can see one big problem with the app: you shouldn’t have to bribe people to do something they should be doing anyway. But if it actually saves lives? Probably worth it.

The app enlisted comedian Rob Bukey to rap about the virtues of safe driving, which is just about as funny as it sounds.

Do you think something like this could help save lives? Or is it wrong to reward young drivers simply for obeying the law? Tell us what you think.