Sydney mum Jenine Garcia considered herself a good driver – until a driving safety app gave her a “wake-up call”.
The 50-year-old told Mamamia that although she had her own concerns she may be using her phone “a little bit much” while she drove, nothing so far had made her change her habits.
Then her 21-year-old daughter introduced her to UbiCar – a free app that monitors users’ driving and gives them a score based on things like speeding, cornering, sudden breaking and how often they touch their phone screen.
Jenine was surprised she scored only a 60 out of 100 her first drive with the app – with her phone-use the major reason why. Six weeks on and she’s averaging scores in the 90s.
“It’s really been the one thing that has made me change my behaviour with my phone,” Jenine explained. “Because I guess I’m a little competitive and I don’t like to see my score dropping because I’m using my phone.”
“It makes me accountable.”
And that's just what co-founder Carolyn Batterton was hoping for when she created the app, which is the first in Australia to use telematics technology to rate a driver's performance.
"Most of us, you know, we're trying to do the right thing. And we probably don't really know where we're going wrong sometimes."
Carolyn pointed to results out of the US that looked at similar apps' effects on driver behaviour when used in city-wide competitions.
"They improved driver's mobile phone distraction by 47 per cent. In Seattle, they reduced speeding by 30 per cent," she explained. "It shows if you give people the information they will change their driver behaviour."
The app also incentivises drivers by offering them rewards in the form of deals and gift cards for safe driving, plus providing motivation in the form of competitions families, friends, or groups can set up.
Carolyn said she was thrilled that since launching around Easter the app had been taken up by so many drivers, and even introduced into schools.