Gamification Could Help Deal with Distracted Driving Without a Phone Ban

The use of mobile phones while driving remains a huge problem everywhere 3 photos
Photo: Tech Advisory
How phone interactions declined thanks to gamificationHow safe driving improved thanks to gamification
Using a mobile phone while driving is already forbidden in many countries across the world, so theoretically, once you get behind the wheel, you should forget about calls and text messages unless you enable Bluetooth or rely on a hands-free solution.
But does a mobile phone ban really work? Not really, because despite the risk of a fine, and more importantly, of a fatal accident, some people out there just don’t want to leave their phones down when driving. And according to U.S. statistics, no less than 700 people are injured every day due to distracted driving.

Sygic, a company that builds navigation software and which will soon release an app aimed at Android Auto users, says the solution for the whole thing is gamification. In other words, why not turning the experience behind the wheel into a game and give points to people who drive safely and don’t use their phones?

A gamified driving experience can include an app with a score that the driver can maintain only when avoiding phone interactions. Attaching a score to one’s performance and visualizing it makes the goal of driving safely more tangible. This approach also creates a cumulative effect – the longer you have worked on improving your score, the more motivated you will be to keep it up,” it says.

Statistics shared by the company following such a campaign launched with O2 Slovakia indicate that this approach is actually pretty efficient. In three months after the launch of such a “contest,” the number of phone interactions dropped by 50 percent, while the overall driving score increased by 5 percent.

This approach has two advantages compared to outright banning mobile phones and in-vehicle entertainment. First, it takes into account the extent to which our modern lives have been intertwined with technology. Second, it enables stakeholders and drivers to be on the same side of the issue rather than businesses or states policing everyone. These two factors may play a significant role in finally reducing distracted driving and ensuring lasting change,” the company explains.

Until a solution that would be embraced by everybody in the industry is found, there’s no doubt that using the mobile phone while driving will remain a thing. And what’s worse, thanks to the evolution of in-car infotainment and the addition of larger screens, some drivers find new ways to use the tech in their cars, such as turning their phones and displays into ad-hoc gaming consoles.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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