Apps Action Plan
Test and implement apps to encourage distraction-free driving and discourage distracted driving.
Steps For Implementation
- Identify key user groups and developers/partners.
- Formulate focus groups, such as:
- Users by age: youth/young drivers 15 to 25 years old, adults (middle-aged) 26 to 64 years old, and elderly 65+ years old.
- Users by type (based on varying rules/restrictions that may apply): government users that drive government vehicles (police, medical, city, county, state employees, etc.), private businesses, the commercial trucking industry, and the general public (private vehicle/personal time use).
- Engage industry (auto manufacturers, car dealers, car operating systems, etc.) as partners, and get a better handle on upcoming technologies to address upcoming challenges proactively.
- Engage app developers for car operating systems/secondary interfaces that integrate smartphones into dashboard/touchscreen (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, etc.) and infotainment systems (Toyota, Ford, GM, etc.), the National Automobile Dealers Association (franchise car dealers), and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (independent car dealers).
- Build focus groups around users and the industry/partner groups outlined above.
- Develop questions/topics for focus groups for steps 2 and 3.
- Formulate focus groups, such as:
- Identify key technological sources of distraction and those with the potential to keep drivers engaged, such as:
- Near-term: smartphones, car operating systems (a secondary interface running from the smartphone and displaying on screen/dashboard), wearables (e.g., watches and health trackers), and third-party in-vehicle add-ons (e.g., global positioning system devices such as Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, etc.).
- Additional near-term: the Internet of Things, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and infotainment systems (built-ins in newer vehicles).
- Identify most common causes or sources of distraction (i.e., user activity) and under what conditions they occur. Identify the most common activities (e.g., texting, calling, using social media, and navigating) and conditions (e.g., speed, location, and road conditions).
- Develop a list of the most common existing mobile apps designed to deter distracted driving. Categorize by incentive-based versus phone-locked-down approaches. Rank existing apps by features, benefits, and evidence of positive impact.
- Call for apps (app-a-thon). Provide a list of preferred/necessary features. Rank vendors/developers by features, costs, and maintenance plans.
- Use the focus groups (from step 1) to review the app(s) and evaluate the features.
- Test the app(s).
- Analyze the data from the app(s).
- Develop new partnerships with the private sector: smartphone/service providers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Apple, etc.), the National Automobile Dealers Association/National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, original equipment manufacturers (Ford, GM, Toyota, etc.), the insurance industry (State Farm, AAA, etc.), and the Internet of Things (Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, etc.).
- Identify and/or create new methods of (and leverage opportunities for) grassroots education at point-of-sale vehicles and devices.
- Encourage dealers and sales persons to market safety technology features.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Strategic Highway Safety Plan Management Team and Distracted Driving Emphasis Area Team, auto dealers and manufacturers, law enforcement, TxDOT, and schools.
Cost to Implement
Time to Implement
- Funding for development.
- Willingness for drivers to download and use the app.
- Government could require smartphone makers to place a warning label on all devices about the dangers of using smart devices and driving (similar to the warning labels on cigarettes or alcohol). This could help reduce the cost and burden of states paying for education and enforcement costs.
- Seek partnerships with mobile app owners (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat, Apple, and Google) to collaborate with Texas to help fund (and perhaps provide in-kind staff/employees to support) the education of smartphone users about the dangers of distracted driving.
- Require mobile app developers to include a disclaimer or alert about the dangers of using a mobile app while driving and a warning to users about fines and/or other consequences at the registration or download phase of the app.
- Require a distracted-driving class before issuing dealer’s (or auction) licenses. Dealers should be required to have a person on site to educate buyers about vehicle technology features and the consequences of distracted driving.