If you’d like more coffee and fewer traffic accidents in your life, this safe driving app is for you.
Positive reinforcement tends to be more effective than punishment in influencing human behavior. That presents a bit of a problem, though, in addressing the issue of people using their smartphones when driving.
See, while the potential downsides of unsafely using your phone while behind the wheel include injury and death, it’s hard for people to perceive a “reward” in refraining from such activity. After all, it’s not like resisting the urge to fiddle with your phone is going to make you more alive than you already are, and without feeling like you’re gaining anything, the temptation to peek at the screen becomes all the stronger.
But Japanese telecom provider au and car manufacturer Toyota have come up with a clever way to encourage people to dive more safely, in the form of a smartphone app called Driving Barista.
The app asks drivers to activate it before stepping on the gas at the start of their journey, then place the phone face down on a flat surface such as the center console. Once you’re underway, the app records how far you’ve travelled, and once you reach 100 kilometers (62 miles), you’ll receive a coupon for a free cup of coffee at popular coffeehouse chain Komeda Coffee, which you can redeem by showing your phone to the server. After the first 100 kilometers, you’ll also earn coupons for each additional 200 kilometers you travel.
So what’s the catch? If your phone’s gyroscope detects that the phone has been turned over while the car is still in motion, it resets the distance travelled.
▼ It also chastises you with a giant “FAILURE” message and a picture of a spilled coffee cup.
Currently, the app is only for use within Aichi Prefecture, a location that’s significant for two reasons. Aichi is where Toyota’s global headquarters is located, and, on a less proud note, it’s also had more traffic fatalities than any other prefecture in Japan for 13 years running, with 213 people losing their lives in auto accidents on Aichi’s roads in 2015.
It’s unknown if the Driving Barista initiative will eventually be expanded to the rest of Japan, but for the time being, the free app can be downloaded here from the iTunes store or here for Android devices.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can’t see a picture of a spilled cup in a car without thinking of Initial D.